Saturday, December 31, 2005

The RNC is watching...

Dan Froomkin is a popular Web columnist for the Washington Post. Every afternoon, he writes a lively digest of White House press coverage. A couple of weeks ago, there was some manufactured controversy, as Washington Post editors started to talk about how there could be “reader confusion” if people thought that he was part of their news division.

It turned out that readers had not complained; it was actually coming from Bush/GOP operatives. Specifically, from a guy named Patrick Ruffini who was the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign Webmaster. He currently works for the RNC, and he wanted to make sure the Bush administration wasn’t confused by the opinion column.

The interesting part comes when you look at Ruffini’s own site. He has created his own “2008 Presidential Wire” that digests pertinent stories for his multitude of fans. And one of his sources? This blog! Check it out – the RNC is watching my crazy, socialist ravings.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Like the sea, a supermarket contains many secrets that it does not willingly give up. Sometimes it takes some squinting at the fine print to tell what's really going on. Unfortunately, the labels often pose deeper questions than they answer.

Let's ponder Mighty Dog Prime Cuts Chicken in Gravy Dinner. If you've ever used a Mighty Dog product, you know better than to buy any of the "in Gravy" variants, because it's a cup of water with some chunks in it. But Prime Cuts Chicken goes even further. The ingredient list starts out OK: Water, Chicken, Turkey, Animal Liver.... Wait a minute. ANIMAL liver? Note that they identify chicken as a meat. Turkey is a meat. They could've said "chicken liver" or "beef liver." But the fine folks at Mighty Dog didn't want to make that commitment. They could only go so far as to say "animal liver." Why couldn't they say "liver?" The word "liver" doesn't open up nearly as many questions as the phrase "animal liver." I thought that it might've been a misspelling of "animal lover" and that they'd been able to sneak a couple of PETA activists in the 2000 gallon grist vat that day, but no. Animal liver. ANIMAL liver, and you had just better walk backwards, slowly, out of the factory and stop asking questions.

Slim Jims used to list beef lips on their label, but they seem to stick to "mechanically separated chicken" now. If I'm not mistaken, that's what you get when, having picked all the meat off the bones, the factory shoots jets of boiling sludge at the carcass, removing all the rest of the little bits into a delicious, Slim Jimmable slurry. Other brands of beefy snap sticks, like Rolets chevies, still list beef lips. However, their ingredients are: beef, beef lips..... Why must they list these as two separate things? It doesn't help the reputation of the first "beef" to then toss in a second, lippier version.

But today, I was greeted with the worst product yet. I've said it for years - the end of human civilization as we know it will originate from somewhere in Washington State. Today, I found us one step closer, courtesy of the King Kullen produce aisle. I spied this misplaced set of four apples, shrink-wrapped, with the Grapple brand name. The label announced that they looked like an apple, but tasted like grapes! The ingredients? Washington State Fuji apples, artificial grape flavoring.

Why is this worse than animal liver and beef lips? When you buy Mighty Dog, you kind of expect the main ingredients to be floor sweepings and offal. When you buy Slim Jims, you're not looking for filet mignon in a convenient pocket pack. However, when you buy an apple, you want an apple. Not another piece of candy. (Except when you get caramel apples around Halloween. Mmmm mmmm good.) It's not even some weird hybrid that tastes like a grape. It's just some crappy old apples they had lying around and shot up with fake grape flavoring.

I wanted to find out more about this Grapple, so I tried to go to their site. It was down for servicing or something. So I checked out the Google cache page. "With childhood obesity increasing at alarming rates, Grāpple brand apples could go a long way to improving the eating habits of children and introducing them to more produce." Yessir. When everything tastes like candy, everyone will eat better! Their home page also features an animation of Chicken Little, dancing for his pathetic little life, looking as fake as, well, a Grapple.

Unsatisfied with this visit to a fake page about a fake apple that showed a fake chicken, I went back to try the "similar pages" list. I now know that the following are similar to Grapples: earthquake maps of North America, high-tech robot skin, Nestle Smarties, portable keyboards for the Palm, Texas Motor Speedway, and 80s music. Grapples: There's no making sense of them.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Aaaah, media bias

Today on channel 5 (Fox), they keep running a graphic while reporting on your commuting options:


While it's nice of them to try and shape people's opinions on the blame for what's happening, most people in New York are on the side of the transit workers. Despite the best efforts of the tabloids to shriek up to Bloomberg on this one.

Of course, they weren't running big graphics three years ago when the MTA was revealed to have two sets of books. They shifted money from one year forward to the next, then claimed that they had a huge deficit so they could raise fares systemwide. This led to their billion dollar surplus today (or more - since we have no idea what their surprise finances will be next week). Why wasn't the Post calling for the crooks at the MTA to be tossed in jail back then, the way they are with Toussaint now?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Peter, a message for you


Carry on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Subway strike!

Took me 2 1/2 hours to get to work this morning. The train was 45 minutes late, and it took 15 minutes just to get out of Penn Station. The smokers and I, the only people normally walking up Seventh on days like this, were joined by hordes of commuters rediscovering their feet.

The morning news was full of warnings today: wear a hat, because you lose 40% of your heat through your head. All well and good, but I wish they'd told me where you lose another 35% of your warmth before I chose these assless chaps to wear to work. Southerly winds suck.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Transit strike looming

We've been going back and forth on this for days now. The MTA, the evil quasi-governmental monopoly who can't be buggered to report accurate financial results, is attempting to remove pesky benefits like pensions and four-minute bathroom breaks from transit workers. The union is about to strike, which would be financially devastating to them under the gigantic daily fines the city has been allowed to impose. Commuters are stuck in the middle of all of this.

So where are the negotiations now? I put on WCBS-880 for a couple of minutes tonight, and I was greeted by the news that Roger Toussaint, the head of the TWU, is a "highly intelligent man." Now think about that statement for a second. Toussaint also happens to be a black man of Haitian descent. Has anyone ever called Peter Kalikow a "highly intelligent man" during a report? Think about it - have you ever heard ANY white guy referred to as "highly intelligent" during any sort of report? The statement itself struck me as condescending, and made only because of the race of the subject. Are people sitting there saying "wow, that head of the union, who is negotiating an intricate contract with the city, isn't very intelligent?" I don't know - maybe they are. But if so, it's an example of unintentional racism.

Bush, the Worst President Ever. Now with 9/11 Blame!

OK, let’s start by putting cards on the table. President Bush should be impeached. Given the revelations of the past week – the fact that he repeatedly authorized illegal, unconstitutional spying on American citizens – there’s really no valid argument against impeachment at this point. This is even without the abandonment of a major city in September and an illegal war in Iraq.

But I realize that not everyone agrees. “Oh, boo hoo hoo. It’ll be too traumatic because we trumped up charges against Clinton a few years ago!” Well, tough crap. You don’t justify letting someone kick you in the ribs on the basis of his brother slugging you in the jaw a week ago, saying that you want to stop the violence.

There are two important things to note right now. The first is the whole “American way of life” argument. We are fighting because, as Bush says, “the terrorists hate our freedoms.” Bin Laden, responsible for the murder of 3000 innocent Americans on 9/11, “hates our freedoms.” Well, what did Bush and his administration do? They hated our Fourth Amendment freedoms and took them away. The Bush administration hates our freedoms.

Second, let’s look at what Bin Laden said after 9/11. His stated goal was to draw us into a wider West vs. Islam struggle. Well well well. What do we have in Iraq that we didn’t have in 2001? A wider West vs. Islam struggle. Bin Laden 2, Bush 0.

Finally, and yes – I have more than two points - we have members of the administration, from Gonzales to Cheney, telling us that if ONLY we had the powers to wiretap without a warrant prior to 9/11, maybe we could’ve stopped Mohammed Atta and even the entire plot. Well, guess what? Prior to 9/11 we had FISA. And the law said that the administration COULD run warrantless searches for 72 hours, then apply for the nearly guaranteed warrant from the secret court.

I have never been in the “Bush could’ve stopped 9/11” camp. It was, for the most part, unexpected. The daily briefing laid out some potential plans as part of a flood of information Bush ignored every day. Condoleeza Rice did her “Oh, thaaaaaaaaat memo!” schtick in front of Congress later on, after denying its existence. But I don’t think it’s necessarily realistic to say that dropping everything when they got the PDB would’ve led to the break-up of the 9/11 plot.

But now I’m starting to wonder. If Cheney is claiming that we might’ve done it with this illegal wiretap plan in place, I can’t see any reason why simply using existing statutes couldn’t have gotten us to the same place. Since I always take our elected leaders at their word, Cheney has made a convincing argument that the administration was, in fact, negligent in the deaths in the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania that day.

Feingold for President in 2008.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Kasha varnishkes

We had a big office party for kids yesterday. It was nice, one of those "celebrate holiday diversity" things where everyone learns the story of Chanukah, then reads some stuff about Kwanzaa off slips of paper, and then as a reward, everyone gets to meet Santa.

The highlight was the multi-holiday lunch spread. There was turkey, and cornbread with jalapeno, and some brisket, and kasha varnishkes, and latkes. I had a bit of each.

You know how some foods just taste awful, and you say "oh man, I hate this," but a couple of years later you try it again because your taste memory has faded and you think "maybe it's better when someone else makes it" but you taste it and the cycle starts anew? There are at least four foods in this category for me:

- Mikee brand authentic Chinese rib sauce
- Suddenly Salad!
- Egg nog
- Kasha varnishkes

Kasha varnishkes, if you didn't know, is a Yiddish term meaning "bowties and varnish." Kasha varnishkes tastes like bowtie pasta mixed with little shavings of varnished furniture. You see a big tray of it and thing "hey, that looks pretty good!" Then you heap up on it, and it tastes like CRAP. No wonder all my ancestors died 100 years ago.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Brooklyn photo scams

Yikes! A guy named Don Wiss has created a popular site that shows the actual buildings at the addresses where Brooklyn camera stores claim to operate. The common wisdom in the world of cameras is that a Brooklyn address means a scam, and this site shows some of the more remarkable ones.

Due to some help he gave a recent poster who had problems with a particular vendor, the story was slashdotted, and Don started receiving death threats from someone involved in the store in question. He tells his story here.

Get your gas at CITGO!

I've decided that since I have to use gasoline to continue my decadent American way of life, I had better find a favorite gas company. I'm going with Citgo.

- Citgo is wholly owned by Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of Venezuela.
- Venezuela's president is Hugo Chavez. He's kind of nuts, but he is a vehement enemy of President Bush - and he withstood a coup attempt that we winked at a few years ago.
- Chavez likes to embarrass Bush. His latest act is to undercut other oil companies by having Citgo sell heating oil to the poorest neighborhoods in Boston and NYC for steep discounts.

Bush won't help the poor buy heating oil. Another country's president, Hugo Chavez, wants to show his commitment to the disadvantaged in the United States. He's doing more than our government is, and that's pretty shameful. Citgo deserves praise and support for saving lives this winter with their cheap oil plan.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Holiday Subway Haiku

The vagrant smoking
At the Bryant Park sub stop
Smells like rotting scrod

That Dora backpack
That little kid is holding
Likely stuffed with bombs


We've got a "major winter event" headed our way, so I just checked the government's official weather site for more information. I clicked through, got to the Upton forecast page, and discovered that we have a good chance of 50% extra snow. BECAUSE THEY'RE USING NINE-SIDED SNOWFLAKES AS ICONS. What the H? This crap just makes my gorge rise. Thanks for ruining winter for me for a 38th straight year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

LIRR's Christmas gift

I bought my December LIRR ticket today. With each monthly you purchase, you're given the special gift of a ten-ride off-peak ticket. Which, when you think of it for a second or two, is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING USELESS. They sat there and said "let's think of the refund that seems the most generous but which will actually be almost completely unused, so we'll be able to put a big expenditure on the books and not actually account for it." Ten-ride tickets, ladies and gentlemen!

But it was the way the clerk at Penn Station gave me the ticket that really had my gorge rising to my eyeballs. He slid the ticket out to me and said "Merry Christmas ticket from the LIRR." Well, I have NEVER been so offended in my life. You see, it's NOT a Merry Christmas ticket. It's a Happy Holidays ticket. How DARE this punk fifty-year-old extend a warm greeting of the seasons to me? Fuck this, I'm going to go have him fired now. That's right, I've declared ALL-OUT WAR ON CHRISTMAS. I am, ladies and gentlemen, American society. Yes, that's right! Fuck you, Christmas.

And fuck Target for, well, something or other. I think they said Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas over their 64 aisles of wreaths, break-dancing Santas, mistletoe belt buckles, holly-themed boxer shorts, antlers for beagles, Jingle M&Ms, candy cane walking sticks, "Tis The Seasonings" gourmet peppercorn mix, Coke-guzzling polar bear ornaments, and Frosty the Snowman line of feminine protection. It really ruins the religious nature of the season to be saying Happy Holidays over all of this disposable consumer shit. Disclaimer: "Oh, and Chanukah too. Hey, that's super."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How stupid is Bill O'Reilly?

Look at the right-side holiday banners on his site. EIGHT-SIDED SNOWFLAKES. What a moron.

That's right. Not Christmas banners. HOLIDAY banners. HOLIDAY HOLIDAY HOLIDAY.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More LIRR haiku

Due five thirty-five
Train will be quite late tonight
Wet track at Copiague

Conductor's eyes glaze
You spoke English just before
AND you owe eight bucks

And one that describes Microsoft's policy of XBox purchases for employees:

XBox three-sixty
Shiny grail of hard-core geeks
Mine at retail price

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I'm surprised he didn't try a smoke bomb

This is the funniest story ever.
Irked by a reporter who told him he seemed to be "off his game" at a Beijing
public appearance, President George W. Bush sought to make a hasty exit from a
news conference but was thwarted by locked doors.

Photos of NYC

I put up a few new photos today - the last five in this gallery. I took them from Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which is a long walkway built directly over the BQE. It's got amazing views of Lower Manhattan, and I strongly suggest that you go there next time you're in the city. (It's just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The two Statue of Liberty shots are actually the same pic. It was shot with a graduated neutral density filter, making the sky exposure closer to the water. It also darkened the statue itself, which was OK because I was going for silhouette. The second picture was the first one given an auto-contrast and some extra saturation. No unnatural colors were used in the making of these shots.

The panorama was a few shots stitched together, but I'm not happy with it yet. I'm going to put together a couple more to see if I can improve it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Turkey and gravy soda? Now THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!!

This time of year has always been rife with holiday tradition. The day before Thanksgiving provides us the warm comfort of a news feature showing how they actually inflate those Macy's Parade balloons, including this year's newest shitty corporate float - maybe a three-story-tall blue Viagra pill or the Chex Mix Gorilla.

Thanksgiving brings football action, featuring the same yearly story during the halftime news break about a rest home in Mamaroneck who all got food poisoning from yams.

The day after Thanksgiving always features thousands of Santas emerging from a subway stop to take position next to fundraising kettles in the street, like a giant game of "Spot the Pedophile."

Over the past few years, we've added yet another tradition to this list: the "unveiling" of shitty, ironic "holiday" flavors by Jones Soda. WHY does the media continue to report this story year after year? Wow, they made turkey and gravy flavored soda. No one would ever drink THAT! They've made a product that's designed to be given as jokes and perhaps vomited at an office party, and they release it as "new" every year, and in January you can go to the remainders shelf at Target and get it. And every year, some moron covers this as a "lifestyle" story. It's not. No one lives the limited edition salmon-flavored soda lifestyle. It's just some company that can't even figure out how to put proper cherry flavoring in their cherry soda, getting some cheap publicity with the same stunt every year. The only danger is that this will accidentally cause some people to taste the "regular" Jones Soda flavors and realize just how second-rate this stuff is. Coke or Die!

Here are some other flavorful ideas that can get some companies lots of free holiday publicity!

"King Kong Tastes Like Crap M&Ms"
"Turkey-flavored Rolaids"
"Jean Nate, Christmas Seven Fishes Scent"
"Anything in egg nog flavor"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Note to Hillary

Ms. Clinton, you have until December 1 to speak up and say your vote authorizing the Iraq War was a mistake if you want my vote next year. C'mon, it's not like you're even sticking your neck out on it anymore.

New article is online

Behold the magic. "Office Gone Wild? You May Not Have Lost That File After All" is in the Nov/Dec 2005 issue of TechNet Magazine. I don't know how I managed to get it accepted, but there it is!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Scratch 'n' Lose: The LIRR vandal

My eyeball hurt today. Around lunchtime, I got a stinging in my left eye, like there was a hotel-sized bar of Ivory in it. I took my contact out but my eye kept stinging. It got worse and worse, despite using the Zee medical eye wash (which turns out to be unpreserved saline solution). It hurt to open my eye, it hurt to close my eye, and I only had one contact in. I finally gave up and hauled myself home a bit early.

I hopped on the 4:04 from Penn, one of the lousy new electric trains, and dozed off in a two-seater. By the time we stopped in Amityville, my eye was feeling a bit better. The train dumped most of its passengers at the next three stops, and as we were on the stretch between Lindenhurst and Babylon, I heard some commotion in the vestibule behind me.

A guy who looked like he was straight out of "My Name Is Earl" was arguing with a conductor and swearing loudly. He was pissed that he missed his stop in Lindenhurst or something, so he blamed the ticket taker. The LIRR guy moved on, and then "Earl" started swearing at no one in particular. A woman led her small children away from him because he seemed a bit nuts, one of those guys on the train with a toolbelt and about half his marbles.

As we got closer to Babylon, I got up to get off the train. He was complaining some more to people standing around him, and they were laughing nervously - one of those "don't make eye contact, don't not laugh just a bit" situations. The guy was mad. So mad, in fact, that he was going to show them! He took a hammer out of his tool bag and pretended to smash out the door glass. Then you could see a 5-watt light bulb go on over his head. He took the claw side of his hammer and started scrawling profanities into the glass of the new train car. "FUCK." "SHIT." He was laughing about it because BY GOD he was showing that train car who was boss!

Everyone just sort of stood there not saying anything. He looked at everyone for commiseration, and when his eyes met mine, my mouth opened.

"So now for the next twenty years, we're all going to have to look at profanities you gouged into the window because you were angry?"

Have you ever found yourself suddenly speaking on behalf of about 20 people who wouldn't say anything? "Earl" was taken aback that anyone would challenge him, so he started to puff up and transfer his stupid anger at me. By threatening me if I didn't shut up.

"Seriously, so now people are going to take their kids on the train and the kids are going to have to look at the crap that you just wrote on the window? Why would you do that? What's wrong with you?"

This got "Earl" madder at me. His eyes were starting to bug a bit, and he took the Half-Step Of Menace at me. The one that says "I'm not actually going to take a swing at you, but I could if I wanted to. Because I'm 'Earl.'"

"Where were you raised that you think it's OK to deface a train car like that and take it out on everyone else just because you missed your stop?"

"Earl" glared at me, and defiantly, triumphantly announced "I was raised on Long Island." Then he gave me the "Put YOU down!" glare that is usually only seen in the eyes of my mom's boxers.
I said "Well, most of us were raised on Long Island, and we have enough class not to scratch out train windows because we slept through our stops."

That did it for him. He told me that I'd better shut up NOW if I knew what he meant. I said that no, in fact, I didn't know what he meant, and that for someone who walks around with an American flag hat, he sure doesn't show much respect for his country or his home.

The doors opened in Babylon. I looked around for a conductor to nail "Earl", but there's a special invisible closet where conductors hide at the end of the ride. "Earl" got off the train, proudly repeating the threats against me that hadn't actually gotten me to shut up, and he disappeared down the stairs.

Here's "Earl". Hey scumbag, thanks for scratching up LIRR car 7408.

And here's further resources on LIRR aholes.

Homemade Stamps says:
Turn your memories into PhotoStamps!

PhotoStamps are a fun and easy way to add a personal touch to everything you send, and they make great gifts too!

Well, I tried this with a picture of my dog, but the stamp wouldn't stop licking itself.

"The pwethident thaid it wath OK to lie"

Back in 1999, we had a bunch of mainstream press coverage asking whether the Clinton impeachment has taught the nation's children that it's OK to lie "because the president does it."

Now it's 2005. When are we going to start seeing the same question asked about Bush and the Iraq war? When will we hear people start to give us the facile, bullshit lectures like "My 14 year old said that it was OK to lie because President Bush did, and what could I say? How could I explain to him that the very important man lied but it was wrong?" When will we be able to find some reassurance in a paragraph like this?

Although adults worry about the effect of the Iraq War scandal on the nation's children, 11- to 17-year-olds say President George W. Bush's behavior has not taught them it is OK to lie or break the law, according to a new CNN poll.

Or does flat-out lying about something as unimportant as a war not spin the right's moral compasses anymore?

Boycott: Chicken or Citarella?

This one's hard to decide. I have to add to my boycott list, because I got some sesame chicken fingers at Citarella yesterday. I bit into one of them, and was greeted with the taste of raw flour and the texture of uncooked chicken. I spit it out and, lo and behold, the chicken was dark pink. This really ruined my day, as you can imagine.

So now the question is whether I boycott chicken, for being raw, or Citarella, for not cooking said chicken. And should I even bring up the crabcake I found hidden in my chocolate mousse last week?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Holiday Haiku, Part I

Radio City
Overwhelmed, senior buses
God, you folks are OLD

Fattest guy on earth
Blocking the subway doors now

7 Line gut cramps
Three stops left...two stops
Shit, stuck in tunnel

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Art of Food Photography

Today's exercise involves the Star Catering site.

1. Why is the photo unavailable for #19? Was it camera shy?
2. What's so special about #23?
3. What the HELL is in #34?
4. Is #47 a bread or a London broil?
5. When did "10oz" become an ingredient name for #7?
5. Back to the top now. Why is pesto pasta a special order? Why does it have to be ordered by Wednesday, and for which date? That Friday? The following Monday?
6. Damn, isn't that some nasty looking food? I mean, DAMN.

Beyond absurdity

Just to review quickly. Bush wanted to go to war against Iraq. Ahmad Chalabi, an Iranian double-agent, helped out by feeding disinformation to the administration, which then used it to bolster their case for war. Later, our new "democracy" in Iraq let Chalabi, the Iranian spy, back into government as a deputy PM. Now, Chalabi is making a tour of the U.S., meeting with Cheney and planning to greet wounded U.S. soldiers - who were in Iraq in part because of his scheming.

Is there any reason NOT to be violently ill about this?

A speech Bush should give right about now

Good evening.

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter than I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of the Iraq War, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Iraq War matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Cheney will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.

As I recall the high hopes for America with which we began this second term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 2 1/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Vice President Cheney, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands.

In passing this office to the Vice President, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Americans.

As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.

By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new President succeed for the benefit of all Americans.

I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your President for the past 5 1/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Congress, and the people.

But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Congress and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.

We have not ended America's most illegal war, but in the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Americans, by the people of all nations, not only that we ended one war but that we prevented future wars.

Now, since I am plagiarizing Nixon's speech, I will skip the stuff about China, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union.

Around the world, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East, there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this earth can at last look forward in their children's time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.

Here in America, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world's standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal of not only more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every American and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.

For more than a quarter of a century in public life I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."

I pledge to you tonight that as long as I have a breath of life in my body, I shall continue in that spirit. I shall continue to work for the great causes to which I have been dedicated throughout my years as a Congressman, a Senator, a Vice President, and President, the cause of peace not just for America but among all nations, prosperity, justice, and opportunity for all of our people.

There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.

When I first took the oath of office as President 5 1/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to "consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations."

I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of America but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.

This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Presidency. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Presidency.

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

American Airlines is back off the list for now

I'm pleased to report that American Airlines has regained its position in my good graces today.

I was booked to leave SFO on the 1:45 flight today. American also had a noon flight to JFK, so I went to the airport a bit early to try and get on it. I signed up for standby on the earlier plane, went to the gate, and hung out.

The 12 PM flight was extra-full. There were no seats left. Flying standby is interesting on a packed flight. You wait at the gate, watch them call the last few passengers again and again, and if they don't all show up you get a seat. Everyone was showing up. With a dozen or so people still waiting to board, they announced that overhead storage was full and that the remaining bags would be gate-checked. And still they came, filling up every available cranny of the plane.

Finally, it was down to two of us waiting, me and an older woman. A third woman ran up to the counter at 11:50 and tried to get on the flight, but she was told that the flight was booked solid. The gate attendant typed in some more stuff, a long list printed out, and she said "Mr. Trupin? Seat 25A." I had the last seat. Yeah! In your face, older woman.

As I was walking towards the gate, the other woman waiting for standby said to the attendant, "Can I pass a note onto the plane to tell my husband that I can't get on this flight?" My heart sank. I felt like I was breaking up a family, so I turned around and said, "I didn't realize you were traveling with your husband. You should take my seat." She was kind of shocked.

We went back to the check-in desk and explained that I was giving the seat up to the woman. They were kind of shocked. Everyone was all shocked and stuff. She had time to thank me profusely, then run for the plane. I turned back to the desk, and was greeted by three attendants wearing the loose-jawed, "we've never seen someone act compassionately" look. They told me that no one else would've done that. I told them that it wasn't that big a deal, really, because I was confirmed on the flight that left 90 minutes later. We joked around for a minute, and then I asked if there were any upgrades or exit rows available.

The attendant at the keyboard switched to his "we don't usually do this" look, then said, "Actually we do have an exit row seat, row 17. You'll have a lot of room." An hour later, the plane started to board. The gate clerk was working at the ticket machine. I was standing in a crowd, but he pointed at me and said "what group are you with?" I looked down, and I was in Group 6. The last people to board. He waved me forward with his index finger and sent me on with Group 1.

I walked down the aisle of the new 767, and found Row 17. If you've been on one of these planes, this is the single row, consisting of two seats, that's tucked in between business and coach. It's always either empty or the flight attendants are sitting in it. They'd given me both seats. It had a business class seat, with a footrest and a full horizontal recline. When I extended my legs fully, I could rest them on the bulkhead. The two seats had a curtain that I could pull closed, but I didn't push my luck. It was like flying in a cocoon.

During takeoff, the attendants pulled out jump seats in the aisle next to me. I told them about the whole standby story, and they treated me like I was in business class. They actually forced a sandwich on me. I said no but they gave it to me anyway in case I got hungry. The chip box contained something called a "turkey stick," which, thinking back, doesn't strike me as being anatomically correct.

The sandwich offering was ham, cheese, and bacon on a roll that crumbled as you lifted it because they put a tomato slice on the bottom of the ingredient stack. I don't know why they neglected to add the pulled pork and Canadian bacon slice, but I understand that we're having a mild pork shortage right now so I didn't press the issue.

So what have I learned today? Always beg for row 17. Always, ALWAYS treat gate staff like humans. Do things to be nice to others, even when you don't expect anything back from it. And even atheists can benefit from karma, not just guys named Earl.

Monday, November 7, 2005

You'll never eat alone...

After a long day spent at the Visual Studio and SQL Server launch at Moscone West, I had a screaming headache. It was overcast all day in San Francisco, and as I walked back to the St. Francis it was starting to drizzle. I felt like curling up in bed, but it was my only free night in the city so I wanted to get dinner at Brandy Ho's.

No one was willing to go to dinner with me (something about a deodorant malfunction), so I went by myself. It was pissing rain, and I had a foolish plan to eat and then walk up to Coit Tower to take some photos. I packed my fabulous travel tripod and my good lens in my TechEd 03 backpack, and grabbed a cab in the pissing rain to the restaurant.

I sat down at my sad little table by myself, and ordered my favorites - the dumplings with sweet and sour sauce, and the beef with green onions and wine sauce. A few minutes after I got there, a family sat down at the next table. They looked a bit touristy. I got my dumplings, did the best I could with them, and then the waitress came by to ask if I was finished. I told her that I was still working on them.

As I spoke, the woman at the next table turned to me, stared at me for a minute like she was about to say something, and said "JOSH??" After a split second pause to put her face back in context, I fainted.

Well, not quite. But through some weird flow of time and space, I was sitting next to Denise Putnam, who had been the admin for the magazines in the early 1990s. They live in New Jersey, but were in SF because the Giants had played the Niners on Sunday. They go on a road trip every year.

This was the second time this has happened to me. The first was when I felt a tap on my shoulder when I was sitting on a plane. My uncle was sitting behind me, traveling back to his home in St. Louis.

Anyway, we had a lovely visit, and then I took them up to Coit Tower in their car! I didn't have to make the dumb-ass walk after all, they were excited to get to a location they hadn't known about, and as the rain abated I got some dramatic photos from the top of Telegraph Hill. (OK, some of them were from back down in Union Square afterwards.)

Sunday, November 6, 2005

American Airlines is on the list too


I had three cookies saved in my bag. I took them out after being denied my meal, and started eating them. The attendant who denied me a sandwich came by and asked if I'd like some milk with them. No, I replied, I want a sandwich. She paused for a moment, then said, "How about some coffee?"

What the FUCKING FUCK is wrong with this airline? I am taking my saved-up miles and selling them. I don't care what I get for them. If anyone can tell me how to get a lousy travel clock for 40,000 miles, please let me know. Thanks.

Sony’s on the list

Over the years, I have maintained a list of companies that I am conducting personally boycotts against. This list started back in the early 1990s, when Avis owed me $1200 for damages to my car caused by an unlicensed driver they rented to. (This is called vicarious liability – I informed Avis of the incident, but they said that when the driver came back in to return the car, he didn’t report any damage so they couldn’t catch him.) They knew the law was on my side, but they tried to wear me out by making me go to court in Hicksville twice, facing one of those shitty, low-rent lawyers whose only skill is abrasiveness. He also had a bushy moustache, as if you could hate him any more. I held firm, and after the second visit they cut me a check immediately.

So fast-forward to this week. Sony has released an audio CD (or CDs) that will actually trash your PC. Without asking permission, it installs something called a rootkit. This is a piece of software that you can’t get off your machine, which doesn’t show up when you look at Task Manager, and which is basically what malicious hackers use to control machines undetected. This rootkit has been found to transmit information back from your machine to Sony servers. Doing this is illegal in many states, and I’m personally not going to purchase any Sony products in protest.

In case you’re keeping track, I’ve compiled a list of Cynicor Boycotts. Please do not patronize these companies, for the reasons listed.


Secretly installs malicious software from audio CDs


Tried to screw me over in small-claims court

Delta Airlines

Charged me $1200 for a crippling center seat on a flight to Atlanta


Offloads health care costs onto Medicaid. Destroys small business, busts unions. Also, the kind of place where Britney Spears would shop.

Hefty Bags

Their tall trash bags with cinch strips are often defective; the straps pull right out, and then you have to take the other one and tie it around the top.


Screws around sports programming if it competes with teams they own. Cable providers should not be allowed to own programming as well. Also, their signal goes out when it rains, just like a dish.

American Airlines

No longer lets me upgrade my coach tickets, so I have all these miles I’ll never be able to use. Getting service from them involves vigorously jiggling a handle.


In college, I bought an Aiwa CD player and it didn’t work right. Its head was misaligned, and it would scratch all my CDs. I sent it back twice, and they wouldn’t fix it. I recorded a brand new CD being put in and scratched and sent it to them. They sent back a note: “We think problem is caused by big scratch on CD.”

Circuit City

Tried to force DivX format on people – self-destructing DVDs. Also doesn’t have as good a selection as Best Buy.

The Wiz

Chased me down in their parking lot because their security system was malfunctioning. Its alarm went off each time someone walked through the doors. I took the stuff I’d paid for and kept walking, and they ran me down and grabbed my receipt out of my hand.Note: people have no obligation to present their own belongings to a dumb-ass store employee just because they have a defective security system. Their problem, not mine. The Wiz is out of business now, ha ha.

New York Times

On my last nerve right now, for allowing Judith Miller to help send our country to war against Iraq.

Omni Hotels

The room I had at the Boston Parker House in 1992 was substandard.


I still don’t know what I bit into in that McNugget. Wasn’t chicken.

Reese’s PB cups

Ate a bag right before I got a stomach virus once. I now boycott them.

NBC on Mondays

I will not watch the morning news on WNBC on Mondays, because they run Fear Factor ads at 6 AM. Who needs that crap?


For destroying an entire season out of greed. And also, the Islanders kinda blow this year.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Time to impeach Bush, the worst president ever

55% of the country now thinks that Bush lied us into war. Time to start thinking about impeachment. It's been a fabulous year for the administration in general.

Dick Cheney's approval rating, meanwhile, is down to 19%.

And finally, Jon makes a very insightful, salient point today:
And for the record? Josh is right about the administration.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Paranormal America

Pierre "I'm not French" Stromberg has started a blog, Paranormal America, for anyone interested in reading about how the United States is becoming a country of irrational religiosity.

"Bush worst president ever"

Through the miracle of the Internet, if you go to MSN Search and enter "Bush worst president ever," my blog now comes up in the top five or six entries.

Now people know that I view Bush as the worst president ever! Finally, I have a voice!! I just know he's going to resign after seeing this.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Regina Hexaphone

In honor of Chris's band's upcoming mini-tour of the East, here's a plug for Regina Hexaphone. Upcoming dates:

Friday, November 4, 2005, N.C. Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC

First Friday early show, before screening of "Planet of the Apes"!!!
Friday, November 11, 2005, Manhattan Room, Philly

w/Rifle Nice and Heston Rifle
Saturday, November 12, 2005, Elevens, Northampton, MA

Sunday, November 13, 2005, Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn, NY

Monday, November 14, 2005, Galaxy Hut, Arlington, VA

w/Federal City Five
Saturday, December 10, 2005, The Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
a minutemen tribute show

Monday, October 31, 2005

Oh yes...there will be grease

I have neglected to fully describe a recent dining experience that every American must know about.

A couple of weeks ago, my son had a late Saturday afternoon game in New Hyde Park. It was about 7 PM by the time we got out of the rink. We were hungry.

We passed through Westbury, looking for food. Our first choice was California Pizza Kitchen. We drove over, parked, and went inside. An hour and a half wait for a table for two. Forget it. We packed up and drove a couple hundred feet to Olive Garden. Got out, same story. Over an hour for a table. Undaunted, we tried again. Casual dining establishments in Westbury are arranged in descending order, so our next stop was Ruby Tuesday's. No dice, and no food.

One last chance. Across the street, a Boston Market sat alone and lonely. We pulled in and parked behind the restaurant. The parking lot was flooded after a week of rain, but we slogged through a few inches of parking lot water with slick on top.

Boston Market always gives me indigestion. I haven't ascertained blame - it could be the greasy chicken, or it could be the greasy stuffing. In order to beat the odds, I decided on a sirloin sandwich. They didn't have sirloin. I ended up with a chicken sandwich after all.

I took our tray and navigated around a wet floor, complete with wet floor sign, to a table. The table was gaily decorated with two plastic carnations, leaving not quite enough room for the tray. We sat down and started our consolation meal.

An employee with a mop and bucket trundled past us while we were in mid-meal. He looked like he'd been doing quite a bit of mopping. An older couple at the next table asked the guy why there was so much water on the floor. Mop guy looked around and responded, "It's been raining all week. The sewer overflowed," then continued on his shit-soaking-up ways.

Soon thereafter, the indigestion struck.

I'm officially a professional photographer!

I have sold 45 copies of hockey photos off my site this month. Total profit to me: a sweet $3.68. EAT SHIT, ANSEL ADAMS!!!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Long Island Rail Road

Today's Newsday reports that the MTA has decided how to spend some of the surplus it gathered by raising my monthly train ticket from $200 to $267 in two years. They're going to give away free rides!
LIRR riders purchasing December monthly tickets will receive a free 10-trip pass good through the end of February that they can give away, but travel must be at off-peak times. Weekly ticket holders will get one free off-peak ticket. There are no daily discounts for LIRR riders.
So your "discount" is to give people who HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR UNLIMITED RIDES IN A MONTH a ticket good for free rides? Hey, that's so great! That really helps me and my monthly ticket out. Why not just give me an LIRR baseball cap turned upside-down and filled with crap?

Referrer traffic

I'm noticing some extra activity on this blog (5 hits a day instead of 0), and got to wondering where it all came from. Fortunately, StatCounter has the answer:

3 sunset photo 2005&btnG=Search
3 photos
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2 nicolini&FORM=QBXR3
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1 cyst&FORM=QBRE
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1 leg pain&FORM=MSNH&srch_type=0
1 BBQ&btnG=Google Search
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1 Bavarian Bakery
1 network blogs
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1 market %26 montauk
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1 Bernson&FORM=MSNH&srch_type=0
1 resume falsified&hl=en&lr=&start=10&sa=N

Sunday, October 23, 2005


The Denver Broncos have a player named Putzier. The announcers on this game are trying to pronounce his name so as not to make it a word.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I am never taking the train again

I got on the 7 train out to Queens this afternoon, and things were going OK. Not that crowded, no one seemed annoying. At Grand Central, we picked up a load of people. This 30-something guy sat down, took out an aerosol container of Degree anti-perspirant, and started spot spraying all over his shirt. Powder scent flying everywhere.

"Well," I figured, "at least I'm having a better day than one passenger in this car."

As the train passed into the East River tunnel, my attention wandered to this older gentleman who was standing at the other door, facing me. He was ooooold. You could saw him in half to count the rings, but he'd probably disintigrate. He was still fairly tall, and trying to strike a dignified pose as he stood there. Then my eyes involuntarily jiggled a bit, and I realized I was staring right into the groin of an old man who just pissed himself. He was drenched. I held my composure and quickly jumped off the subway at Hunters Point.

I took the long walk from the Hunters Point subway stop to the coincidentally named Hunterspoint LIRR station. I got on the LIRR train, and awaited departure. As we pulled out, I looked up and Whiz Guy came shambling down the aisle, alighting in a seat across from mine. He sat by the window and crossed his legs.

I couldn't deal with an hour watching him, so I moved three seats down. The train stopped at Jamaica, and for some reason it got jam-packed with people. Not a single seat free. I knew someone would be stuck sitting next to Whiz Guy.

I minded my own business until the train got to Bay Shore. I got up as the train went through West Islip, and walked past my Pee Friend. A woman was sitting next to him, and she appeared to be near tears. I looked over at the guy, and he had found napkins. He was sitting there mopping himself up, clutching a pile of bright yellow towelettes.

So anyway, I am never taking the train again.


I got a Spooky Sounds machine at K-Mart today. It's remote controlled. You press a button and it makes one of several tinny, mechanical "spooky sounds." Why did I spend $9.99 on this piece of Chinese mastercraftsmanship? It was the testimonials on the back that really did it for me. A skull said "What was that noise??" The ghost replied "I don't know but it's scaring me!"

Think about it. The ghost was confiding in a GRINNING, TALKING SKULL about how scary the tinny, mechanical "spooky sounds" were. I figured that if it upset a spirit from the underworld, my neighborhood kids would be positively crapping themselves when they heard it. Further reports to come!

Friday, October 7, 2005

Prestigious, non-accredited terror alerts

This is such a monumental load of crap. Mayor Bloomberg's been getting some bad publicity over the past week. He refused to take part in a mayoral debate at the Apollo Theater, which is usually considered the heart of Harlem and black culture in NYC. So on the afternoon of the debate, he needed to flip the headlines. And voila, TERROR ALERT. All of a sudden, a "credible, unverified threat" against the subway system materialized just in time for the evening news cycle.

A brief history of crap like this. In 1983, 241 Marines were blown up in Lebanon. Two days later, Reagan invaded Grenada to change the topic. In 1998, Clinton attacked Iraq on the eve of the impeachment vote. In 2004, Tom Ridge announced that they were raising the threat level to orange (where it had already been) because of a three year old story about people casing NY-area landmarks. Right as John Kerry was getting his nomination. What do all these stories have in common? Hmmmm. HMMMMM.

Well, add yet another chapter to this - a phony terror alert designed to draw attention away from another story that could be damaging to an incumbent. Oh, there's an imminent threat all right - it took place at the Apollo Theater last night.

And talking about a "credible, nonverified threat" is the same thing as selling your "prestigious, non-accredited" university. Sure, it sounds like you're getting Yale. But you end up with Matchbook Institute of Technology. Go M.I.T.!!

Monday, October 3, 2005

Not a lease - you OWN IT!

Ironic RSS feed from Google News this morning:

Generals upgrade assessment of Iraq
Indianapolis Star - 1 hour ago
On TV news shows, Casey and Abizaid offer more hope than they did to Congress. New 2005 Toyota Tacoma $199 month for 60 months, 0% APR - Not a Lease - You Own it!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Hoopoes and herring gulls

Tonight, I indulged my affection for British Sea Power by taking Cordelia to their show at Jones Beach. Technically, it was The Killers's show, and BSP was opening for them, a fact made clear when they took the stage at 8 PM sharp ("Hi, we're British Sea Power from Cumbria") to an enthusiastic crowd that filled maybe 1 of every 50 seats in the amphitheater. This is my lot in life - every few years I cast my lot with a band that's unknown in America. Sometimes they end up making it big - Blur is one example. Sometimes they just struggle and eventually break apart, like the Boo Radleys did. This time, I'm on the BSP bandwagon early enough to bring them to the attention of others.

So this band full of rare songwriting talent and fabulous on-stage antics ripped off a great set. Jones Beach is now one of those slightly too-friendly venues. No alcohol, lots of fairly small kids, and bands that come on at 8 sharp. The guy sitting next to us had brought his two sons, ages 8 and 11. None of them had heard of BSP. After a couple of songs, he looked over and said "hey, this band's really good." I told him that, well, I was here to see them. He was a bit surprised, but we struck up a conversation where he asked me how many albums they'd made, where they were from, etc.

Most bands do encores, which is a really tedious, by-the-numbers process. British Sea Power, instead, do an extended last number. It starts with their song "Lately," which is great by itself, and morphs into something called "Rock in A," which is an extended, semi-freeform number. The performance of "Rock in A" includes handstands, blindfolded guitar playing, the occasional crashing into drum sets, and Eamon. Eamon is their keyboardist. He wears a helmet, grabs a military drum, and marches around playing it. When I saw them at Bowery Ballroom earlier this year, he dove right into the crowd, marched around and up the balcony while drumming.

I figured that this wasn't going to work at Jones Beach, because the stage is set off from the crowd. But he grabbed the drum anyway, hopped into the seats, and marched around to the back. He reappeared up near where we were sitting in the mezzanine level, and walked right past the family that had been sitting next to us. He saw the younger kid and handed him his drumstick; the kid ran back to his seat clutching it. The band now has at least three new fans. I heard other people who saw them talking about how good they were, too.

I wasn't so excited by the Killers. If you know their songs, their music is tight to the point of semi-disco in some cases. Don't get me wrong; some of their songs are pretty snazzy. But it gets to the point where they don't deviate from it on stage at all. They also have a severely limited repertoire, drawn from their one album. As a result, their concert felt a lot like listening to the album, and they felt a lot more set apart from the crowd. Tons of teens there were really into them, though.

We had some drunk but surprisingly unbelligerent people sitting behind us. One of them tried to start a "NEW YORK YAN-KEES" chant, but finding no takers, changed it into a "MIS-TER BRIGHT-SIDE" rally.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

JetBlue gets it

I am still amazed at the footage of the picture-perfect landing that flight made last night. They turned potential catastrophe into a huge positive for their airline. Everyone who saw that is now thinking, "Damn, I want THAT JETBLUE PILOT on every flight of mine from now on." They deserve it, too - it is a great airline, even if their snack box consists of a little packet of fake brie that you spread on an Oreo and top with a watermelon Life Saver.

Why did they leave the satellite coverage on during the emergency landing? "We still leave it up to our customers to make the appropriate decisions for themselves based on their feelings or those feelings or reactions customers around them may be having." This is the first airline in history that doesn't treat passengers like children. Once someone knows what's happening on the flight, there's no good that can come from shutting off their access to the news. People use Blackberries up there now; the cat's out of the barn door.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New photo site

I got sick of maintaining my own server, so I've set up a new site here on Smugmug. Browse! Purchase! Or maybe not.

New photo hosting site

I got sick of maintaining my own server, so I've set up a new site here on Smugmug. Browse! Purchase! Or maybe not.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Los Angeles photos

I've put up some of the photos I took around Los Angeles here.

They have an incredible mural for ESPN painted on a 12-story building next to the Hotel Figueroa. The polarizing filter I used made the sky dark blue, and the billboard looked like it was glowing.

Napoleon video availability

A couple of people have asked if I (or any Microsoft insider) can get the Napoleon Gates video they showed at the PDC this week. Unfortunately, they NEVER make the great PDC videos available, and I've been looking for years. They don't put them up anywhere internally, and anyone you might know who might have them won't release them. They're guarded jealously and not made available online.

Street photography

I had dinner with Dave Timmons at Nick & Stef's tonight, a great dry-aged prime steak with both red wine sauce and caramelized onion/blue cheese sauce. Mmmmm. I just happened to have my camera and tripod with me, and when I stepped outside I was met with the sight of two gleaming skyscrapers that were framed perfectly by some courtyard trees with white lights on them. I started to set up to take the shot, and a security guard came running out to tell me that the "management requests that no photos are to be taken on the property." I asked where the property line was, and he pointed to the sidewalk, and then asked what I was shooting. It turned out that he had been shooting for 25 years, and just got a new Nikon D2Hs. We ended up discussing photography for several minutes, and even traded our site details! I let him look through my fisheye lens, and he decided he had to get one. Anyway, I followed his request and moved to the sidewalk and took the photo.
A few steps further on, I saw a second interesting view of a skyscraper, down an alley. I set up on the sidewalk and another security guard came running out, this time from the Mellon Bank. She said, "You can't take photos on this property."

I replied, "I'm on the sidewalk, is that OK?"
Security: "You're not allowed to take photos on our property."
Me: "Where does your property end?"
Security: "The bricks are all our property."

So I moved my tripod just off the bricks and into the gutter of the alley. Now, this seemed fairly reasonable to me, what with it being legal for me to be there and all. I even said, "Is this off your property now?"

Security: "I have to ask you to move across the street."
Me: "Well, I'm not on your property now, correct?"
Security: "Why can't you just move across the street?"
Me: "Because this is the angle I want on my shot. I'm not on your property now, so this spot isn't a problem."
Security: "Okay, I'm going to have to go get someone to ask you to move across the street."
Me: "Okay, you do that."

So the moral of the story is that you should always be polite and respectful, and ask permission to take photographs on private property, even if it seems like it's just an outdoor plaza. And as soon as you're not on the property, the security guard will stop telling you to move and start asking you to move. They are trained to use the Voice Of Authority, but you can safely ignore any stern requests that don't apply to you. They really hate it when you know the rules and laws and boundaries as well as they do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PDC keynote

I snuck up to the front of the keynote this morning with my press pass (a.k.a. "The red badge of courage"). BillG was "on" today, with good pacing and emoting. The PDC always features an actual humorous video demo, and this year Bill got to become part of Napoleon Dynamite.

After the keynote I started to walk over to the press room. Bill and his two handlers walked past me, towards an escalator. The security guard let the handlers through, and stopped Bill because he wasn't wearing a show pass. NO ONE GETS THROUGH.

Monday, September 12, 2005


This is my third trip to Los Angeles. The first time was a month after 9/11. Extremely depressing. The second was in the middle of the raging forest fires in the area, in 2003. It was several days of apocalyptic skies and choking smoke. And now I'm heading back for the third time.

I have been flipping around the channels on JetBlue, and surprise! Widespread blackout in Los Angeles! We're somewhere over Flagstaff, heading for Long Beach. CNN is talking about Michael Brown resigning from FEMA and how Bush didn't even know about it until the press asked him. (Great manager!) Suddenly they cut in to announce that there are blackouts in Los Angeles, and they cut to a commercial. I flip around a bit, and I happen upon Fox News. They are full bore into the blackout story. All over it. And their angle is "Maybe possibly could this maybe be a big terrorism attack? Because you know, they're always testing us." As if to underscore how serious this is, they go to disgraced former nominee Bernie Kerik to get his uninformed views on the situation. Meanwhile, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC are all back to regular coverage.

Back to CNN. They're doing the business minute, talking about Brown, talking about Roberts.

Back to Fox. They're looking for fires to report on, keeping their fingers crossed that it's TERROR. Police Department on FULL TACTICAL ALERT!!!!!

"It's Department of Water and Power personnel. NOT terror, not al-Qaeda, not the type of things we fear these days. It's Department of Water and Power personnel who are responsible for this outage, not terrorism."

Way to go, Fox! But it COULD have been terrorism, huh? Can't be too careful. And make sure to get a couple of shots in at other, better news sources.

Gibson: "We have on the phone Rod Bernson, who used to work with the LA fire department..."
Bernson: "Oh my god John, you must work for MSNBC! It was the LAPD!"

Followed by Bernson: "Remember that Los Angeles is NOT New Orleans. Los Angeles has very specific plans for dealing with emergencies."

Los Angeles just may be the worst city on earth.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sept 11, 2005

At about 3 minutes to 1 PM, Channel 2 was showing live coverage of the annual reading of the names of 9/11 victims. My first thought was "I hope they're not going to overrun the start of the football game for this."

Then they suddenly pulled away at the end of the letter W and said that coverage would continue on their Web site. They switched to live NFL coverage, which consisted of Jessica Simpson warbling "America the Beautiful" and shaking like Joe Cocker. And my first thought was "Why on earth did they preempt the end of the 9/11 readings for this?"

I am badly conflicted right now.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Does it matter who's in charge?

Remember five years ago, when Nader (and Michael Moore) told us that there was no difference between Bush and Gore? Well, Gore personally financed charter planes that rescued 270 people from New Orleans, and refused to be interviewed about it.

Bush could've done this too - and so could his father. So could Dick Cheney. So could Condi Rice. All these people are wealthy, and each flight cost only $50,000. Too bad they were busy vacationing, shopping for homes, and watching Spamalot.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Bush: Our worst president ever

But enough about Bush. I just wrote a letter to Peter King, my representative in Washington. Last time I wrote to him, he basically tried to shove canned yams up my ass in reply. Here's the new letter:

Dear Mr. King:

It has been revealed in the media (both left and right) that the man that President Bush named to head FEMA was, in fact, unqualified for emergency management. He was a political appointment (not that there's anything wrong with that - James Lee Witt was too, but he had the proper experience for the job), and it turns out that Brown's resume was also padded/falsified. I don't understand exactly how this happened, but as my representative and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, what sort of corrective steps will you be suggesting to make sure that our government is run by qualified employees in the future?

I was also shocked, and frankly somewhat puzzled, when the Secretary of the DHS, Michael Chertoff, said that he didn't think that Katrina was that bad because he picked up papers on the Tuesday after the storm and the headlines said "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet." Given that this headline did NOT appear in any newspapers, there seems to be a serious disconnect between the leaders of the DHS and, well, reality - to put it bluntly. (The fact that this imagined newspaper was repeated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Myers, is even more quizzical.)

Most experts believe that it is just a matter of time before a major storm hits us here on Long Island, causing widespread flooding and destruction from Fire Island up to the L.I.E. Like New Orleans, it may be a matter of when, not if. Do we have a damage notification system on Long Island that's better than Secretary Chertoff's imaginary newspapers? As a key member of the Committee, what will you be doing to make sure that Long Island isn't faced with the same problems that New Orleans faced? I know exactly what it's like to lose everything, as my wife's college roommate has had to abandon her home in New Orleans. I would really like to avoid the same fate for thousands of Long Islanders, but I have to tell you that the response I've seen really has me worried.

Joshua Trupin
[address and phone supplied]

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

God I hate Bush

But enough about him. Here's an album with some photos from this summer in Montauk.

Help the FRC fight gays!

The Family Research Council is letting you astroturf Gov. Schwartzenegger to demand that he kill the gay marriage bill. Click this link to send your own note. I sent mine as Reverend E. Normous Peckerwood - the more people who can sign up and make this a mockery, the better!

Your early morning crazy lady

One of the great things about suburban living is the occasional nutcase hanging out at the train station first thing in the morning. There was an older gal greeting commuters at the Bay Shore station at 7 AM this morning. She had half a tall-boy in a bag, and she was yelling at everyone, asking them to borrow a cigarette. No one replied to her. So she started shouting about how you don't put the cigarette on the ground because she has more pride than that. And don't you look at her, she's not even speaking to you. And she don't drink or smoke, she's a sex addict and she loves orgasms. Then she takes another slug of beer.

I stayed well down the platform - not for my own safety, since this type is usually harmless, but because I didn't want her to belch on me or something. She kept getting louder and louder, until a commuter held out his monthly pass and told her that she'd have to leave now. She protested, and he said "Move along NOW," flashing his pass again. She grumbled and walked away from the station.

Aaaah, the power of the monthly LIRR pass.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Were airlines price gouging during the emergency?

I just found this article via google. A couple talked about their experiences stranded at the New Orleans airport for days. True, they were JUST TOO SHIFTY to leave, but is the part about airline price gouging true? Was there any excuse for airlines not offering their lowest base rates just to get everyone out and all seats filled in advance of the hurricane?

With the opportunity to get out passing them by, and airline ticket prices
inflated up to $2,000 by those anxious to profit off the desperation of others,
the Sanderses decided to wait out the hurricane in the airport.

Oh wait. The article explains that their tickets were on United. The airline that screwed us out of the price of a ticket when they cancelled a flight - with the passengers waiting at the gate - during a blizzard in January. They claimed that they'd changed the rules the day before so that you couldn't get a refund for flights they cancelled if you bought the ticket too close to the cancellation. American Express cancelled the charge. United reinstated it. Screw them.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Steph's out, and Bush should be too

We'd been waiting for a week to hear from Steph, who is a lifelong New Orleans resident and who lived Uptown. She finally called to say she was OK. She and her mom fled last Sunday to Alabama, where her brother put them up. They're looking at apartments in the building he's in. Barnes & Noble is still paying her even though the store is pretty much ruined.

It's still numbing to think of the enormity of this. Everyone has, at one time or another, talked about New Orleans disappearing under the sea. I just didn't think that I would actually see it happen. An entire city destroyed and lifeless. When's the last time something like that happened, and happened so suddenly? Atlanta and Richmond were evacuated during the Civil War. Pompeii was destroyed as a city thousands of years ago. I didn't watch any of those happen on TV, from the first Jim Cantore report to the last evacuations.

Fortunately, the federal government has swung into full emergency mode. No, not to rescue survivors from Katrina's aftermath - to rescue the president from FEMA's gross failures. All weekend, we've seen photo ops and interviews of officials who claimed, time and time again, that "local red tape" was to blame for everything. Rove saw the problem, and he and Bartlett are now "Swift Boating" Blanco and Nagin.

The problem with this is going to turn out to be threefold. First, a disaster of this scale is beyond the scope of a city or even a state. Second, since this was spread across four states, how will they be able to blame Blanco for the disaster without also tainting Haley Barbour? And third, the story has just begun. There are hundreds of thousands of people without homes now. This is going to get worse when the middle class maxes out their credit soon enough. We could be staring in the eye of major social upheaval. Are we going to claim that New Orleans be responsible for housing its own citizens? Where? With what?

The whole FEMA debacle of the past week shows the folly of having a "CEO presidency" like Bush has tried. I don't think that he ignored what was going on in the Gulf region. He did what he thought any good CEO would do: he delegated the responsibility to the team he'd identified as the right one. Then he went to bed satisfied that he had kept on top of things. Unfortunately, he's really not a very good CEO, as shown by three things.

First, Mike Brown of FEMA was a startlingly shitty hire. As they say at Microsoft, "B's hire C's." People who aren't top notch hire someone they see as good enough for the job during normal circumstances.

Second, the administration has created a culture of hiding the bad news. This is exactly the opposite of effective. Anyone who challenges a particularly stupid view or position is humiliated, demoted, or fired by Bush's team. There are so many examples of this that you can just google them up. The opposite side of this is that loyalty, no matter how shitty, is rewarded. I have no doubt whatsoever that Chertoff and Brown will be in line for special commendations at some point.

Third, he didn't demand accountability in the first, critical days. He settled for delegation without verification. And that's because everyone knows to sit on the bad news.


On an unrelated note, we went to the Hamptons Classic horse show on Saturday. The excitement came during a jump-off in the main show area. I managed to fight the tiny crowd and stood at the front railing with my camera. One of the riders came over the jump, the horse lurched forward, and the two of them went spilling onto the turf. The rider rolled around, holding body parts in obvious pain. Cordelia yelled "The horse is OK!!!"

Here's what a spill looks like up close. (Saved as a lower quality JPEG and shrunken down from 3000x2000. Click for the bigger view.)

Saturday, September 3, 2005

My Pet Goat II

Wow. Editor and Publisher accuses Bush of "dereliction of duty." Mitchell has been somewhat, well, cynical about Bush in the past, but he really slams him this time. And every word is exactly right.

Did we witness a military coup yesterday?

New Orleans waited for four days for the executive branch and FEMA to get off their butts and start helping them. Things got worse and worse. Then yesterday, the Army showed up and suddenly relief started getting through, the streets started calming down, and evacuees started moving out. Coincidence? Hardly. It almost looks like the military shoved the executive aside to start getting things done and saving American lives.

For the past four years, it has been implied that any criticism of the administration or its policies "hurts our troops." Yesterday, we saw the troops take action while the administration dithered. In addition to all the other stark lessons we're relearning from New Orleans, it should be clear to everyone that "support our troops" no longer equals "be nice to Bush." That was shattered at the steps of the convention center yesterday, as the troops pushed Bush aside to get help to Americans.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Bush in New Orleans

George Bush comforts hurricane survivors outside the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. (Click for large.)

Should've just checked into a hotel

At the Hyatt:

The first convoy of food and supplies provided by Hyatt hotels in Atlanta and Houston arrived at Hyatt Regency New Orleans Wednesday morning, and further relief supplies are en route.

At the convention center:

Kevin Clark, 10, who had come to the center with his grandfather, Isaac, described the horror so many people are facing here.
"I'm scared,'' he said. "I slept on the ground last night. I don't have anything to eat. The last time I ate was Monday.''

"Democrats and others" criticize....

I love the headline in the New York Times today: "Democrats and Others Criticize White House's Response To Disaster."

Our country has a two-party system. Democrats and Republicans. What this headline says is "Democrats and Republicans Criticize White House's Response To Disaster." OK, we know that. The National Review site has been blasting Bush, FEMA, and so on. Everyone is shocked by the lack of leadership we're seeing here. So why is "Democrats" called out in the headline, other than to make the attacks seem more partisan from the left?

This goes hand-in-hand with the media representation of the state of New Orleans now, which can be summarized as "Blacks and Others Loot Businesses." What would be the reaction if these headlines ran?

"Jews and Others Love Money"
"Women and Others Increasingly Obese"
"Republicans and Others Love America"

Well, that third one was actually what we've seen for four years now, minus the "and others" part. Even when it's clear that we're watching a nation-changing meltdown from the White House, the Times is using the headline to imply that the criticism is less than reality-based.

The good news is that gas is only $2.99 for regular at the 7-11 in Bay Shore. Unfortunately, they're out of everything but super unleaded.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Comment verification

I just had to turn comment verification on because some ahole started spamming the blog with stuff like this:

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Where do refugees go?

I know this guy who has a ranch in Crawford, Texas. It's about 1600 acres, and he only uses it five weeks a year. Maybe he'd like to host a couple thousand refugees for a while?

A glimmer of hope...

Britney Spears Prays for Hurricane Victims

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I spoke far too soon

For the past two days I have been watching the painful images of New Orleans, a city dying. I think this is the first time that an entire big American city has been evacuated and closed. At lunch today, a few people were gathered around one of the big TVs in our office, watching coverage of a supermarket being looted. The camera pulled back and I realized it was the Winn-Dixie on Tchoupitoulas St that I shopped at three years ago with the kids when we last visited Steph.

Then I went over to and read that the looters went from that store over to Sports Authority, where people were trying to steal the guns and ammo. Some people have taken a postal truck and are driving it around with assault weapons. At this point, the food and water is running out. As always, I am disgusted with Bush's lack of response to this incredible crisis - but just to calibrate my reaction (since I'm prone to Bush disgust), I looked at a couple of other sites and found out that it's not just me who can't believe what's going on now. This was posted by Rich Lowry on the National Review site:

I know people are sick of this, but one more e-mail:

A lot of Bush fans are frankly aghast at how tone-deaf the president is at this moment. They just showed clips of New Orleans prisoners sitting in a huge group, some of them handcuffed together with plastic cuffs with flood water lapping at their feet. They have been there for two days. Prisoners have their shirts pulled over their noses because the stench is too overwhelming.

Fox News is the only news crew along a particular stretch of highway downtown. Hundreds of people are standing around, wanting to know where they should go to get water and food. They have not had either for days. Shep Smith showed a 3-year-old boy who was sitting in his mother's lap. He was sick and barely conscious. Dehydrated. Hungry. Not a single authority figure was anywhere around. Shep had to turn his interview with a state police spokeswoman into a plea to her to send help to his location for those poor people.

The scenes I'm seeing on Fox are things you'd think you'd only see in Somalia or Bangladesh. This is the United States of America. We can't get a single truck full of water to these people? We can't get a single helicopter to fly over and drop supplies? A cop car and a military truck roll up from the distance, giving the suffering people hope. Do they stop as the desperate wave? No. They drive through. They can't even stop to tell them where they should go to get any life-saving water or food.

I am starting to feel a mixture of outrage and shame...

Gasoline is reported at $4.99/gallon in Atlanta. Stations in North Carolina and South Carolina are running out of supplies. There are lines growing everywhere. Thousands of people are at mortal risk because the federal response has been so slow in coming. Major levee restoration projects were all but cancelled two years ago because Bush shifted the money to Iraq.

Bush needs to resign. That's all there is too it. It's so hard to watch the country crumbling before your eyes, while the president plays his cute little Presidential Guitar. Congratulations, you're Nero. I'm not even angry, because we could've predicted this before it happened. This is all that he is capable of. Why was he not in Louisiana on Tuesday, taking a helicopter tour with Sen. Landrieu? How would that have been so hard? What the HELL is wrong with him? Is he drugged up? We have never had a president who has not done a single thing right, but Bush only has a couple of years left to claim that title.

Monday, August 29, 2005

New Orleans saved; two more pix

Well, as so often happens, God decided to spare the evil city of New Orleans and instead sent the hurricane after the state that elected the former GOP chairman governor. Go figure.

I have two more pix that I took in Montauk last week. This shows the value of my superior new tripod.

Dusk over the Atlantic Ocean
Bonfire on the beach

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I am going to miss New Orleans

I've been there...hmm...four times? It's an odd city, and it's always had the feeling that it's living on borrowed time. That might be part cause of its licentious attitude. The French Quarter is sort of disgusting, and always smells like beer vomit. I don't like seafood, and I don't like 98 degree days. However, once you get 5 minutes outside the touristy areas, you can see some incredibly beautiful old homes. You can also see some of the most depressingly poor areas anywhere (like my 5 AM drive on a foggy Airline Hwy to the airport).

Part of the problem has been that all the towns in the area are built where they shouldn't be, on a flood plain. To preserve them, they've built up levees over the years and pumped water out of the city. This has made things worse, because the levees have prevented silt from being deposited back into the wetlands, which are being eaten away quickly by the Gulf. Areas which used to extend some miles around the river now look like a leaf skeleton after being eaten away by bugs. There's nothing left but the river, the levees, and a street or two on either side. And after this hurricane moves through tomorrow, the whole tip of the state will likely just disappear for good, into the sea. The best-case scenario is this cheerful NOAA warning:







Saturday, August 27, 2005

The two people you meet in hell

East Hampton edition:

1. The guy with horseshoe baldness driving a Boxster. You know, if you put the top back up maybe you wouldn't be LOSING ALL YOUR HAIR.

2. The guy driving a big black Escalade...with a peace sticker on it. A PEACE sticker. Here's a tool who buys the biggest, most aggressive passenger vehicle on the road today. I have NEVER seen an Escalade not make some dumb-ass maneuver due to low visibility or just not giving a crap about smaller cars. They get about 12 feet to the gallon. We're at war to ensure a supply of oil from the Middle East. And this guy is going on about PEACE? We're DYING in Iraq to feed your grotesque half-car/half-truck abomination. Peace THIS, ahole.

This was, of course, all set off by the woman in big floppy straw hat, talking too loudly into her cell phone at the Amagansett IGA while flipping through the People Magazine that features that ahole Britney's pregnancy pix. Who. Cares.