What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Ah, vacation time. A time to relax, unwind, and recharge the batteries; a time to put worries aside and focus on activities like bicycling.

The question is, if you're the President of the United States, and a natural disaster claims the lives of at least 77,000 people, what do you do?

If you are President George W. Bush, the answer is simple: do nothing.

Oh, sure, we're sending humanitarian aid to the countries hit by Sunday's tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Our president, apparently, is too busy enjoying his vacation to make a public statement.

Bush, according to White House spokesman Trent Duffy, can monitor events from the ranch without making a public statement.

Taking a jab at former President Bill Clinton, Duffy said, "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

I guess the message is Bush is too busy clearing brush to speak publicly of the tragedy. At least not right now. According to MSNBC, Bush is planning on holding a National Security Council meeting via telephone, followed by a public statement.

Too little, too late?

There was an outpouring of support from many nations following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Not from the United States. At least not yet.

Can the Bush administration get any more arrogant?

Whether it is Donald Rumsfeld using a machine to sign letters of condolence to the families of soldiers killed in battle, to Bush putting his brush clearing and bicycling above his duty as the leader of the United States to make a public statement of support for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, we get to see yet again another display of arrogance by the current administration. And keep in mind it was an article in the European Stars and Stripes that exposed Rummy's signature machine, which in turn prompted him to announce he'd sign off on the letters from now on.

Ah, the human touch that means so much.

Monday, December 27, 2004

9/11 plane shot down?

The attacks of Sept. 11 have been the subject of many conspiracy theories, mainly along the lines that the U.S. government was behind the attacks, not Al-Qaeda. I don't believe most conspiracy theories, but for some reason I enjoy reading them.

One theory about United flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, is that the plane was actually shot down.

The Bush administration has always maintained the plane crashed, in part, due to efforts of passengers on the plane to take down the terrorists. The plane was allegedly en-route to the White House.

Was the plane shot down? It may very well have been. Donald Rumsfeld, speaking to troops in Iraq on Christmas Eve, said (italics added):

"..and I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten -- indeed the word 'terrorized' is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be."

This from CNN's transcript of Rumsfeld's remarks.

Curious, isn't it? What did he mean by "shot down?" Perhaps a Freudian slip by Rumsfeld? In any event, it's bound to spark the imaginations of conspiracy theorists everywhere.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, my favorite involves the writer Stephen King and John Lennon. It turns out it was Stephen King, not Mark David Chapman, that killed John Lennon. Oh, and the FBI was involved. And Richard Nixon. Somehow. This according to a man named Steve Lightfoot, who in the past has followed King to book signings and other public events to spread the word about the Lennon "assassination."

But hey, if Chuck Barris can be a covert CIA operative, using his television program The Gong Show as a cover, anything is possible.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Rumsfeld's Magical Mystery Tour

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Iraq yesterday, arriving in Mosul to lift his spirits. Er, I mean, lift the troops spirits. It would be very cynical to suggest that Rumsfeld's visit to Iraq is more about Rumsfeld than it is about the troops, and it would be really cynical to suggest that Rumsfeld was trying hard to boost his public image.

I was watching Hannity and Colmes Thursday night, and at one point in the broadcast they cut away to a "Fox News Alert" to announce that Rumsfeld was visiting the troops. You would have thought they were reporting the most important news item in history. Every 30 seconds or so would come the announcement that Rumsfeld was in Mosul. The information never changed, either, but sure enough, every couple of minutes, you'd hear that Fox News Alert "sting" and the announcement that Rumsfeld was in Mosul. After guest-host Mike Gallagher and Alan Colmes had announced the visit 300 times, it ran as a news ticker for the remainder of the show. Seriously, for like 10 minutes, if you looked at the ticker, it wasn't even moving on to other news items, it was just stuck on RUMSFELD VISITS TROOPS IN IRAQ or something along those lines.

I'm surprised Gallagher and Colmes didn't offer up a play-by-play announcement of Rumsfeld's visit, with Geraldo Rivera on location in Iraq to report on events:

Colmes: We're live with Geraldo Rivera outside of Mosul. Geraldo, any word yet on the Secretary's arrival?

Rivera: Hi Alan. Yes, I'm told that he is in a vehicle -- some sort of SUV, or maybe a Humvee, I'm not sure at this point, Alan. I do know the vehicle is not a tank, and that it has at least four wheels.

Gallagher: Geraldo, Mike Gallagher here. What's the feeling on the ground right now? Excitement? I know I'd be thrilled to death had I ever served in the military, which I have not, and got word that the Secretary of Defense was coming to visit. Frankly, I don't know how I'd contain my excitement. Surely a cheer has rung out?

Rivera: Mike, I cannot hear any cheering from where I'm at, but a source with the troops tells me the excitement is "palatable."

Colmes: Any sign of the Secretary, Geraldo?

Rivera: Nothing yet, Alan. He could conceivably be in any type of vehicle or aircraft. Possibly a hot air balloon. That's how they travel in these parts.

Colmes: Thanks, Geraldo. We'll get back to you just as soon as anything happens.

Rivera: Thanks, Alan.

Rumsfeld's troop visit included a Q&A session, but of course no one asked any tough questions. Why? I'm guessing the NCOs and officers told the troops not to ask hard questions. It happens, believe me. You can bet the soldier that had asked Rumsfeld about armor when Rumsfeld made a visit to Kuwait was chewed out by someone in the chain of command.

Back to Hannity and Colmes:

Colmes: We're back with Geraldo Rivera, outside of Mosul. Any sign of Secretary Rumsfeld, Geraldo?

Rivera: I've been looking in the skies, Alan, and I think I see a hot air balloon. It's hard to tell what it is, but I'm certain Rumsfeld is in it.

Colmes: Could this be the best Christmas present ever, Geraldo?

Rivera: Alan, my sources tell me that the troops have stated that Rumsfeld's visit will be the best present they can get.

Colmes: Rumsfeld is one classy man, Geraldo.

Rivera: Alan, I'm just now getting word that Secretary Rumsfeld has arrived. No word on what sort of vehicle brought him to the base. Possibly one of those scooters...what do they call them?

Gallagher: Geraldo, Mike Gallagher here. Do you mean a Segway Human Transport?

Rivera: Yes, that's it, Mike. I'm also hearing that Secretary Rumsfeld rode the Segway from the Pentagon to Iraq and it only took him 6 hours to do it.

Gallagher: Sounds like a Christmas miracle, Geraldo.

Rivera: It is indeed, Mike.

Anyway, Rummy is in Iraq, no one is asking tough questions, and 52% of Americans want him to resign, according to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Merry Christmas to all, especially Secretary Rumsfeld.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Mosul Attack: Suicide Bomber

The attack on an Army mess hall near Mosul, which resulted in the deaths of 24 Americans, including 13 soldiers, was apparently carried out by a suicide bomber.

How could a suicide bomber infiltrate a U.S. facility?

It's clear the Iraqi insurgents are getting bolder. Also, they seem to possess accurate intelligence on our operation, as they've carried out attack after attack on our troops and they seem to know the details of our movements within Iraq. Yet we don't know much about the insurgents. Is there some sort of central organization? Where are they operating from? What are they going to do on Jan. 30 when Iraq's elections will be held?

The commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, took responsibility for the bombing (unlike our civilian leadership, who refuse to take responsibility for anything). Ham told CNN, "Clearly in this instance I failed to identify some shortcoming that allowed this to occur." Ham also said, "It is very difficult to conceive that this would be the act of a lone individual. It would seem to me reasonable to assume that this was a mission perhaps some time in the planning, days perhaps."

Somehow, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the civilian leadership at the Pentagon failed to anticipate the uprising of insurgents following the "Mission Accomplished" speech President Bush gave on May 1, 2003, aboard the USS Abe Lincoln.

When will Rumsfeld pull his head out of his ass and take the time to thoroughly analyze the situation in Iraq? Maybe he'll even listen to the uniformed commanders on the group who have been warning him about the difficulties of fighting off a determined insurgency. Rummy will be warm and comfortable in his home during the Christmas holiday, while our troops in Iraq will be on the alert for yet another unanticipated attack by insurgents determined to kill off as many Americans -- and Iraqis -- as they can.

It boggles the mind that Donald Rumsfeld gets to keep his job. Can you imagine if the president was a Democrat instead of a Republican? The chorus of voices demanding Rumsfeld's resignation would have been deafening.

Here's hoping Donald Rumsfeld's New Year's resolution is to retire.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Happy Holidays!

Since I'm Jewish, I don't greet people with "Merry Christmas," although even if I were Christian, I still probably wouldn't greet anyone with "Merry Christmas" as I tend to avoid all contact with human beings. That's just me.

Have we gotten too PC this holiday season?

My answer may surprise you: yes, we have.

First of all, in public, people should be able to offer up a holiday greeting in any manner they'd like to. People say to me "Merry Christmas!" and I'll return the greeting. No big deal. They don't know I'm Jewish. I used to tell people that I was Jewish, but I've come to understand that people mean well when they say "Merry Christmas."

Even in public schools, I don't see why kids can't say "Merry Christmas" to each other. And if they want to put up some Christmas decorations, what's the big deal? I mean, what do flashing lights have to do with the baby Jesus? Nothing. Same goes for a Christmas stocking. It's a secular symbol of Christmas. If we were dealing with religious icons, that would be another story.

What has evolved over the years is the idea that no one should be offended. And while putting up a Christmas tree in a classroom may seem like an endorsement of the Christian religion, it's not. It's an endorsement of the corporate-fueled version of Christmas, which has more to do with Visa and Master Card than Mary and Joseph.

I guess the bottom line when it comes to the month of December is that you can't please everyone, and the elimination of all things associated with the month to avoid offending a group of people seems a bit extreme. And no, I'm not advocating the celebration of Christmas over other holidays. Chanukah, for instance, isn't really a religious holiday in the same way that celebrating the birth of Christ is. Chanukah commemorates a Jewish uprising against the Maccabees to reclaim a Jewish place of worship. Chanukah is actually a minor holiday. It seems to me it can be discussed without crossing the line into religious endorsement. The same would go for displaying a Chanukah menorah. Just don't light the menorah in the classroom. Lighting the menorah involves prayers, and we can leave the praying at home. I'm all for celebrating a secular holiday in public; and religious folks can celebrate the religious holiday at home and at their place of worship. Seems like a good compromise to me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Support for Bush, Iraq War, Wanes

Could it be that the American public is finally coming to its senses about the deadly war in Iraq? A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows support for the war in Iraq is starting to decline. 56% of responders said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting. 70% felt that the casualties in Iraq were "unacceptable."

The release of this poll comes at the heels of an attack at a military cafeteria near Mosul, leaving 24 dead and at least 60 wounded. 13 of the dead were U.S. soldiers.

It's clear the insurgents are going to do everything in their power to halt the elections in Iraq next month. And the Iraqi troops we're training? They're not up to the task, says President Bush. At a press conference held on December 20, Bush said, of the Iraqi military, "They've got some generals in place and they've got foot soldiers in place, but the whole command structure necessary to have a viable military is not in place."

Also, Bush acknowledged, some Iraqi soldiers have fled from the scene of battles. "Iraq will never secure itself if they have troops that, when the heat gets on, they leave the battlefield," Bush said at the press conference.

Meanwhile, Bush's approval rating stands at 48%, while 57% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. 52% said Bush should fire Donald Rumsfeld.

Ah, It's No Worse Than a College Hazing Ritual

New reports of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib have surfaced, in the form of FBI memos, obtained by the ACLU in a Freedom of Information Act request.

The alleged abuse occurred after the abuses at Abu Ghraib had been made public. In one memo to FBI director Robert Mueller, sent via e-mail on June 24, abuse allegations included strangulation of prisoners, beating, burning prisoners by putting lit cigarettes into the prisoner's ear and unauthorized interrogations.

One memo even accused military police of impersonating FBI officers in order to "interrogate" prisoners and by-pass rules of interrogation set for members of the military. The impersonations were allegedly approved by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Apparently, the Bush administration believes it can do what it wants, when it wants, with no consequences.

Conservatives, of course, will condone the abuse, saying Iraqis had it much worse under the rule of Saddam Hussein. While true, the fact that our torture isn't as bad as what happened under Saddam Hussein is no justification. But that's the conservative mindset: it's okay if we torture prisoners, as long as we don't go too far in the torture.

It sounds like we've already crossed that line. And the Bush administration remains unaccountable to anyone, with the legislative branch not doing its duty to keep the executive branch in check. The beatings, and torture, will undoubtedly continue.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Time Magazine Editors Crazy

Time's person of the year is President George W. Bush.

Imagine that, George W. Bush. Person of the year.

I think we're seeing Bush's pact with Satan coming to fruition.

Can someone explain to me, aside from the war on terror and tax cuts, what the Bush administration has accomplished? Anything? His administration has borrowed away our children's futures with seemingly endless government spending, and now we have record deficits, the dollar isn't worth shit, the trade deficit is at an all-time high, and Bush is person of the year?

But hey, if George Tenet can be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for heading an agency responsible for intelligence failures that have led us to war, I guess it's no surprise that Bush would be Time's choice for person of the year.

Under Bush's leadership, the number of people living in poverty has increased, the number of people without medical insurance has increased, and life in the United States is not better than it was four years ago.

If Bush gets his way, Social Security will become partially privatized. What has not been explained is how we're going to cover the estimated $2 trillion to switch to privatization. Bush will not raise taxes, but you can bet he'll borrow the money. Which means our grandchildren will be paying for Bush's reckless spending. Thanks, George.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the success story continues as insurgents exploded car bombs in Karbala and Najaf, killing at least 62 people and wounding at least 120. Also, in Baghdad, three Iraqi election officials were killed when dozens of gunmen swarmed the vehicle and executed the officials in the middle of the street.

And, of course, Osama bin Laden, previously wanted "dead or alive," remains at large.

All in all, a great success story for team Bush. What's next, the Nobel peace prize?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Abu Ghraib: What Really Happened?

The so-called liberal media really slammed the Bush administration over the torture of Iraqi prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib prison, didn't they? Oh wait, the so-called liberal media did not. Like most Bush fuck-ups, our ever-vigilant press basically gave the Bush administration a pass on this issue. As Rush Limbaugh said, what happened at Abu Ghraib was really no different than what happens at a fraternity hazing ritual.

The news that was ignored, for the most part, was the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Taguba investigated the claims of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. And no, it wasn't the same as a fraternity initiation.

For reference, you can read the third Geneva Convention, with the specific guidelines of how prisoners should be treated. Contrary to what conservatives might want everyone to think, we still are signators of the Geneva Convention. For instance, article three, section one states:

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

Although this is old news, it's worth repeating, to remind everyone of what happened. What did our military police do to the Iraqi prisoners of war? There are many violations of the Third Geneva Convention. Charges include:

-- Prisoners were punched, slapped and kicked.
-- Naked male and female prisoners were video taped and photographed.
-- Prisoners arranged in sexually explicit positions to be photographed.
-- Forcing prisoners to be naked for several days at a time.
-- Forcing male prisoners to wear women's underwear.
-- Forcing groups of male prisoners to masturbate while being photographed and videotaped.
-- Male guard having sex with a female prisoner.
-- Guards breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on prisoners.
-- Threatening prisoners at gunpoint.
-- Sodomizing a male prisoner with a light stick.
-- A prisoner's wound stitched by a guard, instead of a medic.
-- The use of unmuzzled guard dogs to intimidate prisoners and, in one case, the guard dog biting the prisoner.

Now, conservatives will see the list and say "It was worse under Saddam Hussein!" While it may have been worse, there's no question that the United States violated the provisions of the Third Geneva Convention.

Why would anyone defend what happened at Abu Ghraib? What would have the reaction been if it were U.S. prisoners of war being sodomized by Iraqi guards? Would conservatives say that what the Iraqi guards were doing to our troops was no worse than a college initiation? Would they defend the Iraqi guards, saying that they were just letting off steam? Of course not. If Iraqi soldiers captured American troops and subjected them to the same treatment as outlined above, conservatives certainly would be outraged and offended. Bottom line, even if the abuse wasn't as bad as what happened under Saddam Hussein, we violated international law at Abu Ghraib. Donald Rumsfeld should have lost his job just for the abuse. But no, conservatives need to defend the Bush administration, no matter what any member of that administration does. No one is accountable, and the buck is passed around to anyone who will take it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I'm Giving Up

I've come to the decision that this site will remain a mirror to my main site, so no more entries here about kittens or memes or anything touchy-feely. Thanks to everyone who stopped by during this experiment. If you'd like a daily dose of political commentary, head on over to What's In Scott's Head, my home on the web.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The One About My Blog

I have a confession to make.

I don't like this blog.

Strange, eh?

The truth is, I'm first and foremost a political writer. I write political columns and my main web site is dedicated to politics. I guess it's that I'm not much of a touchy-feely kind of guy and writing a non-political blog just doesn't feel right. So, I guess the question to ask is -- and feel free to leave a comment to answer -- should I continue writing this blog? I mean, if I'm boring you to tears when you find your way, obviously I'm not doing my job as a writer. At my political blog, people react strongly to it. Some people love it and others hate me with a passion. But that's okay with me. I'd rather be hated than boring, and I have a feeling this particular blog is boring. I know who my audience is at my main blog; I don't know for this blog.

What do you think?

The One About Scams

If you're like most people, you probably get occasional forwarded e-mail, usually some sort of diatribe attributed to a celebrity (such as the I'm A Bad American essay often attributed, incorrectly, to people like George Carlin and Ted Nugent), or a warning that a certain group is currently attempting to harm others (such as the warning about a gang initiation where the gang member would kill the driver of a vehicle that flashed its headlights at the gang member), and many more.

You'll notice I included links to the web site Snopes. They've been debunking urban legends for years now, and they are always my first choice when I get an e-mail forwarded to me that sets off my alarms.

Like your family probably does, my family forwards these e-mails all the time.

A good rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No, Bill Gates is not giving away money to people that forward a certain e-mail to "test" some sort of e-mail program; that person from Nigeria who is offering you millions to help move funds to a bank account is, in fact, going to rip you off; the person on the phone claiming you have received a government "grant" and all they need is your bank account information to process the "grant" are trying to rip you off.

Another scam involves a company sending an e-mail, requesting that the recipient log in to their account and "update" the information. This is known as "phishing." Say you buy and sell using Ebay. You might one day get an e-mail with an Ebay e-mail address stating you need to provide your credit card number, or reset your password, or provide a social security number. The e-mail will include a link to a web site.

Never, ever, comply with such an e-mail. For instance, in the e-mail, you might see something like this:

To help speed up this process, please access the following form to complete the verification of your eBay account registration informations: &fraud alert id code=00936614

But before you click on that link (and don't do it here!), hover your mouse pointer over the URL. Notice something? The Internet address is different that what the link says. Clicking on that link will not take you to Ebay. It'll take you to the phony web site the scammers will use to get your personal information and rip you off.

I get these e-mails at least twice a week. From Ebay, from Citibank and other financial institutions. They're all a rip-off. Be suspicious if you are directed to a non-secure web site where you are asked to enter credit card information. A secure web site (used by legitimate businesses) will start with HTTPS. A non-secure site will start with HTTP. Actually, a good rule of thumb is never provide credit card or social security numbers to a non-secure web site. I was ripped off once after winning an auction through Ebay. At the end of the auction the seller provided a link to pay for the item. I did, and didn't notice the site was non-secure. After inputting my information and clicking on "send" I got a "page not found" error message. And at that moment I had to do a Homer Simpson "D'oh!" because I knew I had just sent off my information to the scammer. And, sure enough, a few days later, the scammer had started to charge things to my credit card. I caught it early on (the scammer will usually attempt to use your credit/debit card for purchases in small amounts, such as $1.99, to test if the card works and if the scammer gets away with it. They did a couple of these $1.99 transactions and then a $50 purchase. At that point I cancelled the card and reported it stolen. I was lucky to get my money refunded, and the only hassle was getting a new debit card).

When in doubt, or if something sounds suspicious, head on over to Snopes and see if they've reported on the issue. In most cases, they have.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The One About Music I Like

When I work on my blogs or work on my weekly column (The One About Politics), I listen to music. For those of you into synth-pop or electronic music, here are some suggestions to some great music you may have missed:

Venus Hum, Big Beautiful Sky

Here is my review from Amazon:

"My introduction to Venus Hum came about through the Blue Man Group's album "The Complex" and the song "I feel love," sung beautifully by Annette Strean. I had no idea who they were and was so impressed by their collaboration with Blue Man Group that I had to give a listen to "Big Beautiful Sky." Strean's lyrics are whimsical and she sounds like an angel. The electronic palette painted by Tony Miracle and Kip Kubin provide a spectacular backdrop to Annette's voice, covering a wide variety of electronica styles that reminds one of the great synth-pop bands of the 1980s, like Depeche Mode and Erasure, coupled with an enigmatic voice best compared to Kate Bush. "Big Beautiful World" is an album deserving of more attention to this talented trio from Nashville. A must-have for any record collection."

Wolfsheim, Spectators

My Amazon review:

"What a shame it is that, in an age where unrecognizable, bland pop music rules the airways, original, brilliant music does not get the airplay it deserves. Thankfully, Wolfsheim's latest, Spectaors is about to get a domestic release.

Peter Heppner and Markus Reinhardt are Wolfsheim, with Peter on vocals and Markus on instruments. Until recently they've not had much of a presence in the United States, with just a song or two ("The Sparrows and the Nightingale") being played in dance clubs. Essentially, they're known more by word of mouth than anything else in the U.S.

Specators features a rich, haunting sonic tapestry with an emotional impact. Comparisons to other bands are inevitable (such as Depeche Mode) but essentially useless.

For the new listener, any song on Specators is a great start, but Once In a Lifetime really stands out. Musically upbeat, the lyrics belie a darker undertone. In fact, many of the songs on "Spectators" present this musical paradox, which creates a very real experience for the listener.

Spectators is worth hunting out, whether you purchase it as an import or wait for the domestic release, and is a far better album than Depeche Mode's lackluster Exciter."

Color Theory Presents: A Tribute to Depeche Mode

My Amazon review:

"Color Theory is actually a one-man band, musician Brian Hazard, and his tribute to Depeche Mode is in my opinion the best DM tribute album available. It helps that Hazard sounds an awful lot like Martin L. Gore of Depeche Mode, but there's more to Color Theory than the singing; the music is a fabulous mix of old-style synth-pop and 21st century electronica.

The choice of Depeche Mode songs covered represents an eclectic mix of old and new, all great Depeche Mode songs that did not get the attention they deserved when released, such as the single Here is The House from Black Celebration and my favorite track from Violator, Sweetest Perfection.

Included in this mix is Hazard's own single Ponytail Girl, a song many thought was recorded by Depeche Mode when it was released. Some may come away with the impression that Hazard is simply imitating Depeche Mode, but that's just not the case. Hazard is a great musician, and Color Theory is music equal to the greatness of Depeche Mode, and not just an imitation."

All of the above are great choices if you're looking for something new to add to your music collection.

The One About Saturday

I'm supposed to be doing some chores and getting off of my lazy ass, but that would require some effort, and unless I develop telekinesis and/or the ability to stretch my limbs several feet, I'm probably going to be stuck here at my desk.

For the folks visiting outside the Blog Explosion universe, I'd like to take the time to recommend Blog Explosion if you'd like to drive traffic to your web site. It works pretty well, my main blog (The One About Politics) get a few hundred hits a day, thanks to Blog Explosion. So, if you'd like exposure to thousands of potential readers, head on over and sign up.

What does one do on a Saturday afternoon? Well, if I had the energy I might drive somewhere, or exercise, but most likely I'll just cement my ass to the chair.

Watched the Esteban American Legacy Guitar infomercial again. Further proof of how pathetic I've become.

How are you being lazy this fine weekend?

Friday, December 10, 2004

The One About Nothing, Pt. II

When did television networks start calling re-runs, or repeats, of programs as an "encore presentation?" Does it sound like it's something different than a re-run? Apparently the networks think we're not going to figure out the difference. On the WB network, they would re-run popular shows, such as Smallville, on Sunday and call it "Easy View Sunday." It's not "easy view," it's a friggin' re-run!

My man, Chef Tony, has a new infomercial out. He's one busy chef! But is he really a chef? Who knows. He looks like a chef, and that's good enough for me.

The new product is something called Smartware! You can bake stuff in the Smartware and it just slides right off and onto your plate.

Well, I'm off to do some serious drinking.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The One About All Of My Ads

Some of you, I'm sure, have noticed that this site has lots of ads. And I know it's distracting at times, but the dirty, shameful truth is, I want free money. See, if I can get 10,000 people to this site, and each one clicks on a Google ad, I earn about $5.00. And with that money I can purchase items like beer, string cheese, shoelaces and one tin of spam. All necessary for dinner.

Anyway, at this rate, my Google ads will pay off in actual real money by the time Social Security is solvent. But a guy's got to try.

I had more to say but Judge Judy is about to come on, and I drop everything for Judge Judy.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The One About Insomnia

I've been an insomniac for years. I not only have difficulties in falling asleep, but I have a hard time staying asleep. Add to that a severe case of sleep apnea, and the result is feeling daily as if my head had been kicked by either a horse or two horses. Maybe three. If I'm lucky I fall asleep at 2:00 a.m., and after taking a variety of medications, I usually can put in seven or eight hours of sleep. The sleep apnea reduces the effectiveness of that sleep, so it ends up feeling like I didn't get any sleep. I do have a machine that helps keep my airway open while I sleep, but it's in need of re-calibration and I'm having a grand time working it all out with my health insurance. Hopefully, soon, the machine will be fixed and I'll actually wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day, rather than feeling like I'd been kicked in the head by a number of angry horses.

The One About Firefox and bad TV

Up until I decided to find a new line of work in 2003 (read: laid off), I had worked in high-tech as a QA test technician. Which meant I always had access to new technology. My friends are also techies, and they always were very impressed with whatever new bit of hardware I was testing (such as the Pentium II processor, AGP video, and DVD). I was one of the first in my group of friends to have access to the Internet (via a Unix shell account) and the first to have a "homepage," which has now evolved to "blog." I was Googling when the service first became available and Ebaying in 1998.

I completely missed the boat on blogs. I had registered for my own domain in 2001, but didn't really do anything with it. In 2003 I started my first blog, but I was a few years late in that trend.

And now, finally, I have succumbed to Internet pressure and am using the Firefox web browser. Is it better than Microsoft's product? To be honest, I haven't noticed much of a difference. Some of you may consider that statement akin to blasphemy, but if Firefox is better than IE, I haven't figured out how. I'm sure there are tons of features that I've been too lazy to look into. Let me know what I'm missing out.

On to bad television...

I posted before on the joys of infomercials. I'm actually a big fan of television, much to my wife's chagrin. As a writer, my work schedule can be sporadic, where I might spend one day working on my column and blog entries, and other days writing diaries for Daily Kos. Usually I listen to music when I work, but other times, I'll have the TV going in the background.

And, well, I'm starting to get hooked on the court shows. Or, rather, one show: Judge Judy. Years ago I used to watch Judge Judy religiously, and then stopped. I caught it again recently, and God help me, found myself hooked again. Maybe I need counseling. It says something about a television program that uses A Fifth of Beethoven as its theme song (you know, that disco classic from 1976 by Walter Murphy).

I have learned some lessons by watching Judge Judy:

-- Never, ever, ever, loan money to family without first drawing up a contract that lines out the minute details of said load, get it signed, notarized, have a Supreme Court Justice initial it, register it with the National Archives, and make sure to have several hundred copies made of the contract.

-- Never, ever, ever, loan money to friends. Same stipulations as above.

-- Never, ever, ever, loan money to boyfriends/girlfriends.

-- Never, ever, ever, loan money to acquaintances.

-- Never, ever, ever, agree to appear on Judge Judy. Being on TV isn't worth the humiliation.

Better still, never go outside or interact with anyone, ever.

The One About Myth Busters

Parents, if you're looking for a fun television program to watch with your kids, look no further than the Discovery Channel and Myth Busters. The premise of the show is to prove, or disprove, popular myths and urban legends. Can you really harm a car's engine by pouring sugar into it? Did a construction worker really glide to safety from a tall building by using pieces of wood as wings? Can you really get sucked under if you step into quicksand? The Myth Busters are there to answer those questions. Hosted by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the two men bring years of experience from working on movie special effects to debunk, or confirm, popular myths. Plus, the two like to make things explode, which the kids like.

The One With Netflix

It's time to pimp the excellent DVD rental service, Netflix. For less than $20 a month you can rent as many DVDs as you like, and keep them for as long as you need to.

I've also saved a ton of money, as I had been...well...a tad addicted to purchasing DVDs. I have hundreds of DVDs in my collection, but I usually only watch a movie once, so Netflix is perfect for someone like me. I struggle with insomnia, and many nights I find myself up at 1:00 a.m., with nothing better to do than stare at the wall. Or, watch a movie, which is more interesting than staring at a wall.

I'll be really happy if Netflix expands to include video game rentals. I also have a bit of a problem with buying Xbox games, and that habit is a bit too expensive.

I was telling my wife that I wished there was a similar service for books, since I have the same problem with books...and was told about something called a "library" where, amazingly enough, one can actually borrow books...for free! Sounds good to me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The One With Infomercials

Admit it, you've watched at least one infomercial in its entirety. Come on, don't be shy. You know who you are. Me? I've watched the entire 30-minute infomercial for the Chef Tony Miracle Blade Ultimate Chopper.

Image Hosted by

Yes, that's the man himself, looking a little...happy.

The infomercial stars Jenilee Harrison, who played Cindy Snow on Three's Company. I like that the Miracle Blade Chopper can chop up stuff like concrete. Jenilee is very thin...hopefully some of that Chef Tony magic wore off on her and she ate something she made with the chopper.

Image Hosted by

The worst part -- and this is really pathetic -- is that I've watched this particular infomercial more than once.

Another favorite is the Esteban guitar infomerical. Don't know who Esteban is. But hey, that's one cheap guitar! And it sounds great! When Esteban plays it. It would probably sound like crap if I strummed the strings.

So, fess up, which infomercials have you watched?

Monday, December 06, 2004

The One With Color Theory

I've been a fan of synth-pop music since the mid 1980s, and my tastes in music haven't really changed all that much. I still listen to Depeche Mode, Erasure, OMD, New Order, The Human League, and other bands from that era.

One group I have to recommend is Color Theory. Actually, it's not really a group, but one man, Brian Hazard. His latest album is a Depeche Mode tribute album, featuring an eclectic mix of old and new DM songs. Brian sounds an awful like Martin L. Gore, which helps, but isn't distracting. The music is great, too. If you're looking for a new album to add to your collection, Color Theory Presents Depeche Mode is a great choice.

The One With Pop Culture

Okay, I'm ready to admit it: I'm a fan of Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss. Yes, it's true. I know, you probably think it's a stupid show, but I love the entire premise: 20-something corporate whores willing to do anything to get a job -- even if they do not know anything about the corporation, the "billionaire" in charge, or even what the company does (something about investment capital).

If you've seen The Apprentice, you know how this show works. Three actors play the billionaire and his two executives, and they send the contestants off on baffling contests while the "boss," N. Paul Todd, offers up conflicting business "advice" and bizarre behavior. The first competition has the teams panhandling to see who can get the most money; another competition had the teams trying to sell incredibly stupid, useless products to suckers (regular people on the street), such as "Air in a Can" and an "environmentally friendly" tampon made of twigs.

Like gangbusters, the contestants hustle and do what they can to sell the products.

"Boss" has its boardroom scenes, just like Trump's show, but here we see how crazy the billionaire is, as we sit through uncomfortable silences and the disjointed mutterings of the man the contestants believe they will be working for.

With so many reality shows on television, I have to wonder why so many people are willing to humiliate themselves weekly to millions of people. I guess fame and money are big motivators, and everyone has a price to which they'd submit themselves to weeks of exposure in order to get that cash prize.

What's your price?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The One With The Memes

Okay, I promised a cute cat picture, so here it is:

Image Hosted by

That little guy is Beethoven The Cat (TM).

Now, on to The Memes

I'm not sure I've got this whole meme thing down. I guess you share random stuff with readers, so, based on random factors (like what songs come up in a media player if you put the player on 'shuffle,' which is what I've done). So, here are the songs randomly selected by Windows Media Player:
Ten random songs from my media library via Windows Media Player:
Joan of Arc -- OMD
Hurry Home -- A-Ha
Radio Waves -- OMD
The Current -- Blue Man Group
Jealousy -- Camouflage
Pompeji -- Camouflage
Slipping Away -- Information Society
13th -- The Cure
I Want You Now -- Depeche Mode
Fighting For Love -- Venus Hum

Now, to make this really interesting, the 10 random songs from the Creative MediaSource Player:

S.O.S. -- ABBA
Once In a Lifetime -- Wolfsheim
Does Your Mother Know -- ABBA
I Believe -- Tears For Fears
Blue Angel -- Squirrel Nut Zippers
Hand In Glove -- The Smiths
Above -- Blue Man Group
Broken -- Tears For Fears
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want -- The Smiths
Heroin, She Said -- Wolfsheim

Isn't that fun? What's funny is I have the same playlist for both players -- but the Creative player was coughing up more eclectic selections and, yes, ABBA.

Help Wanted: Guest Bloggers

I'll admit it: sometimes, I just don't feel like updating this blog. Mostly it's laziness. So, I've decided that I'd like to invite two readers to be guest bloggers here. Anything goes, for the most part, except of course for anything illegal. Oh, and nothing pornographic.

So, if you're interested, I'll invite the first two readers to respond. Drop me a line here.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

An Experiment

I have bits of writing scattered all across the Internet, from old Usenet articles, circa 1995, to various blog postings. This site has mainly just been a mirror of my award-winning blog What's In Scott's Head? But I got to thinking, why not write a blog that's more in line with the trends that have invaded the blogsphere? See, just using the term blogsphere shows just how hip I can be.

Actually, most of the trends I've noticed while surfing sites through BlogExplosion. In case you've never heard of BlogExplosion, it's basically a way to whore out your blog to thousands of other bloggers. It's as addicting as crack. You sign up your blog, and then you earn credits by surfing the blogs of other BlogExplosion members. And by surfing the blogs, you get credit, which in turn is used to drive traffic to your blog. Good idea, in theory; the downside is most people only stay the required 30 seconds before moving on to the next blog.

I think it's high time I do something other than politics. If you want politics, head on over to my main blog.

Now, I hope you all will not be too distracted by the layout, which I'm about to fill with advertisements. Just like other popular sites.

Drop me a line with other suggestions. I'll have a photo of my cat up soon.

The Cabinet Shuffle

Another member of George W. Bush's first cabinet has resigned: Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. For those of you who want to keep score, here's the current list of resignations:

Secretary of State Colin Powell
Attorney General John Ashcroft
Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham
Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman
Secretary of Education Rod Paige
Secretary of Commerce Don Evans

Thompson offered up a warning to the United States with the announcement of his retirement of the vulnerability of our food supplies. In a speech he said, "For the life of me, I cannot understand why terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do...we are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."

Thompson also noted he worries "every night" about terrorists attacking our food supply, and that only "a very minute amount" of food is tested at airports.

President George W. Bush played down Thompson's remarks. Of course, had the information come from flawed CIA reports, you can bet your ass Bush would have jumped on this information and launched an attack against America's farmers.

What's worse is that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld refuses to step down. Come on, Donny! Over half Bush's original cabinet has stepped down. In light of a discovery of a new set of photographs of prisoner abuse, taken in 2003, you'd think Rummy would do the honorable thing and take responsibility for the prisoner abuse by resigning.

This new set of photographs appear to show Navy SEALS sitting on hooded and handcuffed prisoners, with some photos apparently showing bloodied prisoners and one with a gun to his head.

In fact, news of prisoner abuse was detailed in a December 2003 memo to Army generals. The report also outlined abuse by a joint operation of special forces members and the CIA, who had been abusing prisoners throughout Iraq and had been using a secret facility to carry out the "interrogations."

All of this before the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs were released.

Good thing the man in charged of the armed forces isn't going to be held responsible for these abuses. We all know that in the Bush administration, the buck stops somewhere else entirely. Certainly not at Rumsfeld's desk, and definitely not at Bush's desk.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Sex Ed With a Side of Morals

Should public schools teach only abstinence in sex ed curriculum? That was the debate on today's Crossfire, featuring guest host Rev. Jerry Falwell.

The conversation was centered on a report issued by California Congressman Henry Waxman. The report was critical of the Bush administration's abstinence only curriculum, saying in some instances false or inaccurate information was being taught. For instance, a program called "Me, My world, My future" teaches that women who have abortions have a higher rate of suicide, and another program states that condoms fail as much as 31% of the time, when the actual figure is closer to 3%.

The debate on Crossfire was the standard fodder. Jerry Falwell wondered why public schools are not teaching morality along with sex ed.

Does that sound like a good idea?

For me, no. Shouldn't morality be taught at home by parents or via religion? When did public education get so complicated? If you want morality with your sex ed, have it taught at private religious schools. If public schools do a poor job of teaching the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, I'm not very confident in a curriculum of morality.

They Hate Gays in Alabama

An Alabama state legislator wants to cut off all public funding if those public funds are used to purchase books with pro-homosexual themes, messages, or characters.

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen (quick, guess if Allen is a Democrat or Republican!)

...bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, Republican, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he wants to protect children from the "homosexual agenda," including "children" in college.

If Allen's bill passes (my guess is that it will), not only will the "pro" homosexual books be removed from libraries, but they would be destroyed.

Yes, destroyed.

"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," Allen says.

It's bad enough to have a book-banning bill, but does it really need to be accompanied by the destruction of the books? What about donating the books to a state like Massachusetts?

Surely there are sane people in Alabama. Right? Maybe everyone is goofed up by gas fumes from attending NASCAR races. I don't know. Remind me to never, ever visit Alabama.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Short Entry Today

Not much to report today -- my new column is up at CounterBias. If you have a few minutes, give it a read and let me know what you think. Check out the other columnists as well, I think you'll find a wide range of topics and opinions from some great writers.

Human Rights Violations

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced today findings of "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment of prisoners at a particular detention center. The country behind the human rights violations? The United States, in its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Tactics used on the detainees include subjecting the prisoner to severe temperatures; the use of loud music to deprive sleep; and forced nudity, among other tactics.

The Red Cross has charged the treatment of the prisoners violates international law. The U.S. government, of course, will brush off the charges, since the prisoners in Cuba are "detainees" and not prisoners of war. It's a good thing we set such a high moral example for the rest of the world to emulate.

A Pentagon spokesman denied the charges. Considering what happened at Abu Ghraib, I'm not ready to believe the Pentagon.

As comedian Yakov Smirnoff used to say, "What a country!"