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Friday, December 31, 2004

My racist dress

Is there a nigger about to hold this up?

Teen sues over Confederate flag prom dress

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 Posted: 3:14 PM EST (2014 GMT)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky (AP) -- A teenager is suing her school district for barring her from the prom last spring because she was wearing a dress styled as a large Confederate battle flag.

The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court claims the Greenup County district and administrators violated Jacqueline Duty's First Amendment right to free speech and her right to celebrate her heritage at predominantly white Russell High School's prom May 1. She also is suing for defamation, false imprisonment and assault.

"Her only dance for her senior prom was on the sidewalk to a song playing on the radio," said her lawyer, Earl-Ray Neal.

Duty, 19, is seeking actual and punitive damages in excess of $50,000.

She said she worked on the design for the dress for four years, though she acknowledged that some might find the Confederate flag offensive.

"Everyone has their own opinion. But that's not mine," she told reporters outside the courthouse. "I'm proud of where I came from and my background."

Duty, now a college student, said school officials told her before the prom not to wear the dress, but she didn't have another one and decided to see if administrators would change their minds.

Our little redneck was told beforehand that her ode to slavery dress violated the school's dress code. Yet, she wore it anyway. Tough shit. Schools have the right to keep order and her racist dress belonged outside the school. She knew that she couldn't wear it, knew it was racially offensive and didn't care. They should have ripped the damn thing from her and burnt it on the ground like other trash.

Free speech isn't a license to cause a riot.

posted by Steve @ 1:34:00 PM

1:34:00 PM

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We're not winning, are we? pt II

Get that camera away. Don't look at us, don't look at ussssss

Violence against Iraq troops takes toll

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Robert Burns

Dec. 30, 2004 | Washington -- Key measures of the level of insurgent violence against American forces in Iraq, numbers of dead, wounded and insurgent attacks, show the situation has gotten worse since the summer.

While those numbers don't tell the full story of the conflict in Iraq, they suggest insurgents are growing more proficient, even as the size of the U.S. force increases and U.S. commanders succeed in soliciting more help from ordinary Iraqis.

For example:

-- The U.S. military suffered at least 348 deaths in Iraq over the final four months of the year, more than in any other similar period since the invasion in March 2003.

--The number of wounded surpassed 10,000, with more than a quarter injured in the last four months as direct combat, roadside bombs and suicide attacks escalated. When President Bush declared May 1, 2003, that major combat operations were over, the number wounded stood at just 542.

-- The number of attacks on U.S. and allied troops grew from an estimated 1,400 attacks in September to 1,600 in October and 1,950 in November. A year earlier, the attacks numbered 649 in September, 896 in October and 864 in November.

U.S. commanders insist they are making progress, in part by taking the fight more directly to the insurgents. And they remain hopeful that more U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces will join the fight soon.

Some observers are more doubtful.

"The prospects in Iraq are grim," Dan Goure, an analyst at the private Lexington Institute think tank in Washington, said Thursday. He assessed the conflict as a standoff, with no clear indication that either side will achieve victory in the coming year.

"Neither side can truly come to grips with the other so far and defeat them," Goure said.


It almost certainly is the highest KIA total for any year since the Vietnam War.

U.S. deaths averaged 62 per month through the first half of the year. But since June 28, when U.S. officials restored Iraqi sovereignty and dissolved the U.S. civilian occupation authority, that average has jumped to about 78.

On the brighter side, the U.S. military says ordinary Iraqis are beginning to speak up, making it easier for troops to uncover weapons caches and capture insurgents. That is true around Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq, according to the Marines.

"The atmospherics in and around Ramadi seem to show that the local populace is tired of the insurgents and their intimidation and violence," 1st Lt. Nathan Braden, spokesman for the 1st Marine Division, said in an e-mail exchange Wednesday

No, stupid, they're using the US to weed out rivals. They know those who rat out the resistance will be killed. We can't protect them. So guess who gets their cache found? The rivals.

I don't think it's a standoff when you can't use the roads. That's a big assed victory for the resistance. People need to say the US is losing and it's unlikely to win unless things change radically.

posted by Steve @ 1:22:00 PM

1:22:00 PM

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What to do with Raffle Turkey

I won me one of these at the office

Okay, so maybe not a wild one (I wish!! My Mom's departmental chairperson bow-hunts these and we keep hoping he'll share...but I digress...). The one I picked up at the office is about 14 lbs, comes with the innards/neck, and is currently frozen as hard as granite. I just put it in the fridge to defrost, and will attempt to do something with it on Monday.

So far the game plan it to roast it (gotta get me a throw-away roaster--my Le Crueset roaster may not be wide enough) and then Cut it Up and Do Stuff With It.

Obviously, a lot of the meat is going to be re-frozen As Is, as I am just myself and can't eat all that turkey. Soup from the carcass/trimmings is also in the works.

Other than Turkey Sandwiches and Turkey Salad, I was thinking of variations upon Creamed Turkey and perhaps Turkey Curry. Remember, I have a lot of turkey, and can portion it out accordingly. I also have a Chicken Chilie recipe that can probably play well with cooked turkey, if I just cook up the sauce beforehand.

Also be aware of this site by the good folks at Butterball which has all kinds of odd leftover suggestions.

However, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this first.

Happy New Year!

posted by Jenonymous @ 1:16:00 PM

1:16:00 PM

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You want MY money?

Why pay him to get the official story?

Alice Marshall sent this to me and since it was posted on her blog, I won't redact her name.

Keep in mind that we will be fundraising in the New Year. My soccer jersey collection needs more additions. And there is that Fragbox I need to challenge all the kool kids on the block. In that vein, here's a snarky reply to a PBS fundraising letter.

Oh yeah, while I won't tell people to give to Tsunami relief through me, a portion of the money raised in the next fundraising drive will be sent to various charities. Most likely, direct funds to bloggers in the region to help defray their costs.

Letter from Susan Richmond

Dear Ms. Marshall:

I’m tempted to say we’re at our wit’s end. But wit - like art, insight and drama - is one of those precious commodities we make it our business to keep in abundance at WETA TV and FM.

Perseverance is another. It has to be, because only one out of every 8 viewing and listening household is a member of WETA.

Surprised it is that high.

That’s a difficult ratio to accept because we are a membership-based station. In fact, WETA is one of the few community-licensed stations in the country. We truly depend on individuals like you. If we had only viewers and listeners but no members, WETA just wouldn’t be around.

All the more reason to respect the moral values of our community: due process, democracy and national security. Both the NewsHour and Washington Week in Review, produced by WETA, were complicit in the trashing of the grand jury process during the Whitewater and impeachment inquisition. Both were complicit by silence in the theft of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Both have failed to adequately cover the well documented problems with electronic voting and voter suppression. Neither show could find anyone to say, on the air, that the betrayal of a CIA case officer was a heinous crime.

We wish we knew how to inspire you to join us.

Fire the apparatchiki and replace them with journalists.

If we haven’t already done so, perhaps this will do it:

Escalating program costs are threatening our ability to continue carrying all the programs you look for and enjoy on WETA. That’s because without your support, we can’t afford the five- and six- figure price tags of high-quality television and radio.

Economize, end nepotism, dump Unfiltered.

In addition we need to raise more than $5,000,000 this year to meet our programming and production budget.

During this time of great fiscal challenge to all in public broadcasting, the future of WETA lies more in your hands than ever before Ms. Marshall. That’s why we can’t stop asking you to become a member of WETA. Without you, we can’t continue to provide the outstanding programs you expect from us.

Since our inception in 1961, WETA has been a leading creative force in public broadcasting. In addition to the arts and entertainment programs we offer, we have a special niche in covering the day’s national and international news. Can you imagine PBS without THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER?


Of course, today’s world, covering the news is more challenging than ever before - and it costs more too.

So how come bloggers like Dave Johnson and Steve Gilliard do so much better?

As our expenses soar, it becomes more and more difficult for us to continue providing the top-notch news coverage you’ve come to expect from WETA.

Top notch? Sock puppets for crony capitalism would be closer to the mark.

That’s why we need people like you to join - so WETA’s future will be as brilliant as our past.

CLEAR THE SKIES, MASTERPIECE THEATRE, MYSTERY!, ARE YOU BEING SERVED? and SKINWALKERS: AN AMERICAN MYSTERY SPECIAL are just a few in a long list of programs that make WETA the channel you turn to when you want the highest quality shows - ones you simply can’t find on commercial television.

And what would the Greater Washington area be like without WETA 90.9 FM?

Like WAMU 88.5, whose programming you duplicate.

With favorites such as MORNING EDITION

Favorite?! Morning Edition? How many members did you lose when you took away our lovely commercial-free classical music only to duplicate WAMU’s programming? At the time of the change it was announced that while classical music was popular with members, corporate donors preferred Morning Edition, even though Washington already had access to Morning Edition. You made your choice, bring back Mozart in the morning or go cry to your Philistine corporate donors.


Given that All Things Considered has been infiltrated by operatives for Richard Scaife and Howard Ahmanson, perhaps it would be better to drop it.

and CAR TALK, 90.0 AM is an essential part of our community life.

In an election year like this one, WETA plays an even more important role in the Greater Washington community. Thousands of viewers and listeners tuned in for our acclaimed election coverage - comprehensive, unbiased and focused on issues rather than personalities. The lively and constructive debate we presented helped thousands of people stay involved and cast and educated vote.

Your election coverage was a study in the lies of silence, silence about Bush’s record as a deserter, silence about Sproul Associates conspiracy to suppress the vote, silence about all the things that matter.

WETA is one of 349 public broadcasting stations in America. But we are one of the most prolific stations when it comes to creating original TV programs:


Won’t you please join us as a partner in the WETA public broadcasting enterprise by becoming a member right now - and help us bring you more great programs in the future? Please let us know that we’ve earned your membership. If you do, WETA will never be at the end of its wit, wisdom, culture, variety or any of the programming you count on.

Susan Richmond
Senior Vice President

P.S. At a time of great fiscal challenge to all in public broadcasting, the future of WETA lies more in your hands than ever before. Please share our future by joining with a gift of $35 or more. We need you. Send your support today.

A gift of $35 will generate $100 dollars worth of direct mail appeal. Dump your direct-mail contractor, they are bleeding you white.

Many readers ask me why I pick on the NewsHour and Washington Week. After all, aren’t all the other broadcast news operations much worse?

WETA is produced by our community, and reflects upon us. When Jim Lehrer or Gwen Ifill lie, and the Board of Trustees tolerate that lie, they are complicit. If we allow this to be done night after night, week after week, our community is complicit. I am not suggesting my readers refrain from contributing to WETA, far from it. I suggest that you let them know that you object to the corrupt nature of these shows.

Oh, I would. I would suggest you not send PBS a fucking dime until they air programming reflecting the concerns of people who give them money. NPR is totally useless and corrupt and PBS skates by with minimally effective newscasting. It isn't just the news shows which are corrupt. You have all manner of snake oil salesmen during their fundraising drives. Facelift in a bottle anyone? Gary Null? Come on. PBS doesn't have nearly the ethical standards it should and supporting it is pointless.

posted by Steve @ 11:02:00 AM

11:02:00 AM

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Question Time

So, when Don gave me the formula for Sarin....

OK, I know many of you have questions about blogging so here's your chance to ask me. What you ask will determine how my How to Blog series goes.

You can also ask us some personal, if non-invasive questions, like where we shop and what our favorite colors are.

And I wear both boxers and briefs. Usually briefs, when I wear anything at all

posted by Steve @ 1:40:00 AM

1:40:00 AM

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You make the call

Save social security, he screams before a meeting of the CATO Institute

Ok, you get to pick the stories of the year.

One, my best posts, two, the best actual stories of the year.


Because I post so much stuff I've forgotten what I've done. Some of you haven't. So I leave it up to you.

posted by Steve @ 1:32:00 AM

1:32:00 AM

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Last gasp of a desperate foe


Militant Groups Warn Iraqis Not to Vote

By NICK WADHAMS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three militant groups warned Iraqis against voting in Jan. 30 elections, saying Thursday that people participating in the "dirty farce" risked attack. All 700 employees of the electoral commission in Mosul reportedly resigned after being threatened.

The warning came a day after insurgents in Mosul, which has seen increased violence in recent weeks, launched a highly coordinated assault on a U.S. military outpost. The United States said 25 insurgents were believed slain and one American soldier was killed in the battle, which involved strafing runs by U.S. warplanes.

The United States, which has said the vote must go forward, has repeatedly sought to portray recent attacks that have killed dozens of people as the acts of a reeling insurgency, not the work of a force that is gathering strength.

The radical Ansar al-Sunnah Army and two other insurgent groups issued a statement Thursday warning that democracy was un-Islamic. Democracy could lead to passing un-Islamic laws, such as permitting homosexual marriage, if the majority or people agreed to it, the statement said.

"Democracy is a Greek word meaning the rule of the people, which means that the people do what they see fit," the statement said. "This concept is considered apostasy and defies the belief in one God — Muslims' doctrine."

Ansar al-Sunnah earlier posted a manifesto on its Web site saying democracy amounts to idolizing human beings. Thursday's joint statement reiterated the threat that "anyone who accepts to take part in this dirty farce will not be safe."

Insurgents have intensified their strikes against the security forces of Iraq (news - web sites)'s U.S.-installed interim government as part of a continuing campaign to disrupt the elections for a constitutional assembly.

The statements by the Sunni Arab-dominated insurgent groups seemed aimed at countering Shiite leaders' claims that voting in the election is every Muslim's duty. Shiites, who make up 60 percent of the population, hope to use the vote to power from minority Sunnis, who were favored under Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

Iraqis will elect a national assembly that is to write a new constitution.

The Al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that all 700 workers for the electoral commission in Mosul resigned Thursday because they had been threatened and that Iraq's leading Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, had withdrawn from the race.

If true, the move will severely hamper efforts to prepare for the vote in Mosul, which has been too dangerous for most work to even begin though the vote is now only a month away.


"The fact of the matter is we're keeping the insurgents off balance and they're reeling backward. They're trying to come at us and we're giving it right back," spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Hastings said.

"The terrorists are growing more desperate in their attempts to derail the elections and they're trying to put it all on the line and give it all they can."

Yeah, so desperate that they can actually scare the shit out of the election workers.

If they were actually doing what they could, it wouldn't be just mess tents with human bombs inside. They are just ramping up, as I fear we will see at the end of next month.

posted by Steve @ 1:24:00 AM

1:24:00 AM

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Blogging a tsunami

blogging disaster

Web logs aid disaster recovery

By Clark Boyd
Technology correspondent

Some of the most vivid descriptions of the devastation in southern Asia are on the internet - in the form of web logs or blogs.

Bloggers have been offering snapshots of information from around the region and are also providing some useful information for those who want to help.

Indian writer Rohit Gupta edits a group blog called Dogs without Borders.

When he created it, the site was supposed to be a forum to discuss relations between India and Pakistan.

But in the wake of Sunday's tsunami, Mr Gupta and his fellow bloggers switched gears.

Text report

They wanted to blog the tsunami and its aftermath.

One Sri Lankan blogger in the group goes by the online name Morquendi.

With internet service disrupted by the tsunami, Morquendi started sending SMS text messages via cell phone from the affected areas of Sri Lanka.

"We started publishing these SMSes," says Mr Gupta.

"Morquendi was describing scenes like 1,600 bodies washed up on a shore, and people burying, and burying and burying them. People digging holes with their hands. And this was coming through an SMS message.

"We didn't have visual accounts on radio or on TV, or in the print media."

Soon, thousands of web users around the world were logging on to read Morquendi's first hand accounts.

In one message, Morquendi wrote about a Sri Lankan woman who was running home with a friend when the wave hit.

"She was being swept away," Morquendi's message read. "She grabbed a tree with one hand and her friend with the other. She says she watched the water pull her friend away."

Mr Gupta says the power of Morquendi's text message blogs was palpable.

"He was running around, looking for friends, burying bodies, carrying bodies," Mr Gupta says of Morquendi.

"I can't even begin to imagine the psychological state he was in when he was sending us reports, and doing the relief work at the same time.

"He was caught between being a journalist and being a human being."


In one of his latest posts, Heretic asks: "Have you ever seen fishing trawlers on the road? Ever seen a bus inside a house?

"Well," Heretic writes, "that was just the least affected areas - so you can just imagine - or can you?"

He concludes: "Keep it blogged."

posted by Steve @ 1:03:00 AM

1:03:00 AM

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Hair is evil

Cover your fucking head or we'll kill you

Head Scarves Now a Protective Accessory in Iraq
Fearing for Their Safety, Muslim and Christian Women Alike Cover Up Before They Go Out

By Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A15

BAGHDAD -- They want to be invisible, these young women at Baghdad University explained. They were sitting in a small group -- five students with pale head scarves pulled tightly around their somber faces.

They would not give their names. That would be crazy, they said. The whole point of wearing the scarves now was to be anonymous and unimportant, to avoid being singled out and followed, or kidnapped, or shot. It was more than a matter of blending in. It was a matter of disappearing into the landscape.

"I put on the scarf because I wanted to walk in the street without fearing someone will kill me or kidnap me," said one of the women. " I want to finish my studies. Without the scarf I cannot. I heard rumors about killing women without a scarf. Why should I risk my life?"

This is the new reality for many women in Iraq, Muslims and Christians alike. As the months have passed since the U.S.-led invasion, fewer women are daring to venture out without wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf, called a hejab in Arabic. In Baghdad, moderate Muslim women used to feel they had a choice whether to wear the scarf, even as religious oppression under Saddam Hussein grew over the past decade. Now, in many neighborhoods, it is hard to find a woman outdoors without a head scarf.

Conservative Muslims believe that women should cover their heads to hide their beauty and not tempt the men who see them. Such instructions are spelled out in the Koran, the Islamic holy book.

The practice of wearing head scarves varies widely throughout the Islamic world, from more secular countries such as Turkey where many women dress in the Western style, to strict religious societies such as Saudi Arabia where all women cover their heads and most of their faces in public.

In the past several years, an increasing number of Muslim women living in Western Europe have begun wearing scarves -- in some cases as a religious statement, in other cases because of pressure from other local immigrants.

Although Iraq is predominantly Muslim, for many decades its capital was a trendy, modern city. In the 1960s, women wore short skirts and blouses with low necklines. But their daughters say they do not have such freedom today. They blame a postwar insurgency bolstered by conservative hard-liners.

"Because of the current situation in the country, lack of security, the occupation and many other things, people started to look for a way to escape the terror," said Fadhil Shaker, a psychology professor at Baghdad University. "They want to hide or take shelter to protect themselves. For women, the scarf is the best way to protect them. Women believe the scarf will be the wall to prevent people from looking at them."

Before the war, Iraqi Christian women rarely put on scarves. There was no reason to do so, according to Christian women interviewed recently. Their religion did not dictate it, Muslims and Christians in Iraq got along peacefully and they said they felt no pressure to blend in. Even a few months ago, the sight of a Christian woman without a scarf or a Catholic nun in a habit was not uncommon in neighborhoods where Christians gathered.

But these days Iraqi society feels like it has lost its social compact, its religious tolerance, many of the women said. Christians feel singled out. Anyone associated with the Americans, any foreign military force or the interim government feels singled out.

Nada, a student who declined to give her last name, said the first day she went to college this fall, her mother rushed out of the house at the last moment and presented her with a scarf. She had never worn one.

Female students at Baghdad University now debate whether women should wear the scarves. Some wear them for religious reasons. But most who have recently adopted the practice have done so simply out of fear.


"We cannot force people to believe in what we believe in," said Dalia, who is Muslim. "They even want the Christians to put on a scarf. Christians have their religion and convictions, which differ from ours. We cannot force them to do what we want. We want to have our country secured and stable, and I think forcing people to do what they don't want will add nothing but tension."

Dalia said she is one of the few women at her university who does not wear a scarf.

"The scarf has nothing to do with faith," she said. "I fear there will be time when we cannot walk in the street without head-to-toe abaya [the full black traditional dress] and a face cover. This will be the end of Iraq as a civilized country."

Another things that Iraqis have to thank Americans for.

posted by Steve @ 11:54:00 PM

11:54:00 PM

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Get over it, wingnut loser

Do overs permitted here

Not here

The folks at Kos have been following this closely.

Gregoire declared governor-elect, but Rossi wants new vote


OLYMPIA, Wash. -- After three statewide vote tallies and 58 nerve-racking days of waiting, Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared Washington's governor-elect on Thursday. But it may not be over.

"Less than two weeks from today I will take the oath of office as your next governor of the great state of Washington," an ebullient Gregoire told supporters at a Capitol news conference.

Gregoire's Republican rival, Dino Rossi, refused to concede and called for a new election. He also was exploring whether to contest the election in the courts or in the Legislature.

Rossi and the state GOP said they have discovered a discrepancy of more than 3,500 votes in King County, the state's largest, possibly pointing to fraud or mistakes that could have swung the ultra-close election.

"I think we need to examine what's right and what's wrong and let's expose it and see if we can correct it," he said at a news conference from his campaign headquarters.

Gregoire congratulated Rossi for running a strong campaign, and said it was up to him to decide when and where to concede. But she ruled out a brand new election.

"Do-overs" only occur in golf, and only during practice, she said. "This is not golf and this is not practice."

Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, certified Gregoire, the three-term attorney general, as the winner of the closest governor's race in state history. She won a statewide hand recount by a scant 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

Reed, a veteran county and state election administrator, said he was "shocked and stunned" by just how close it was. The dependably Democratic state went for John Kerry and re-elected Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and six Democratic congressmen, and installed a Democratic Legislature.

He said Wednesday that the election was hopelessly flawed and that the Legislature should authorize a new election.

"I do not feel like this has been a botched election," Reed told a Thursday news conference. But he said that because it was so close, any error discovered took on great significance.

"Nothing that I have been informed about rises to the level of fraud," Reed said. "There have been human errors. There have been mistakes. At this time there is nothing that appears fraudulent."

Still, he added, "If I were in Sen. Rossi's shoes I would do what he's doing" - researching to see if there were errors or illegal votes that rise to the level of challenging the outcome. He said he supports a revote only if the courts nullify the election.

Gregoire's campaign rejected the idea of a new vote and said Rossi should accept the newly certified tally.

"There is a process for determining a winner and that process is over," Gregoire's spokesman, Morton Brilliant, said Thursday. "Chris Gregoire will be inaugurated in two weeks."

He said it would be irresponsible to spend $4 million in taxpayer money on a new election "just because you don't like losing this one."

Dino Rossi lost. He needs to get over it. Just like we can't prove there was voter fraud in Ohio, despite deep suspiscions, he doesn't get a do over because he lost a close race. Bush was elected by 537 votes and we had to live with it. He lost by 129 votes and needs to get over it. Now.

If he gets a do over, let's do one in Ohio.

posted by Steve @ 8:21:00 PM

8:21:00 PM

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Hell's work is never done

Surprise. Guess what the tsunami dug up?

Tsunami waters raise landmine fears in Sri Lanka

Thursday, December 30, 2004 Posted: 9:06 AM EST (1406 GMT)

POINT PEDRO, Sri Lanka (Reuters) -- Already haunted by fears of a new tsunami or spread of disease, survivors picking through debris of entire towns to recover corpses at Sri Lanka's northern tip face a new danger -- floating landmines.

Nestled near a border dividing the north between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, the area around the small fishing village of Point Pedro -- devasted by giant tsunami waves on Sunday -- is now littered with plastic landmines uprooted by floodwaters.

"There are land mines spread all over. Many of them have moved, hundreds are floating," said Sinnathurai Kathiravelpillai, a district medical officer working near Point Pedro.

Mine disposal units estimate there are around one million mines scattered mostly around northern Sri Lanka, a legacy of a bloody two-decade civil war that killed 64,000 people until a ceasefire three years ago.

Landmines here are a part of life. Children grow up around road signs warning them not to play with them. Many areas are still cordoned off by yellow tape and skull and crossbones signs. Some residents hobble past on artificial limbs.

Demining teams, including several from abroad, are working in the north to create safe access for residents and aid convoys and have already cleared tens of thousands of mines.

The force of Sunday's giant waves -- which has killed nearly 23,000 in Sri Lanka and more than 80,000 across Asia and counting -- churned up sand and earth and residents saw hundreds of the mostly plastic devices bobbing on floodwaters.


116,000 dead and counting...and yet one more thing to make this situation suck EVEN MORE...ambient floating LANDMINES that have been randomly deposited in the disaster zone..

posted by Steve @ 7:49:00 PM

7:49:00 PM

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The tale of the numbers

another day, another blown pipeline

A post from the Kos diaries.

The Dark at the End of the Tunnel: The numbers from Mosul
by Stirling Newberry

Thu Dec 30th, 2004 at 09:06:33 PST

In The Dark at the End of the Tunnel I asserted that the over all casualty rate of the Coalition against insurgents is in the range of 1:4, and that this, combined with the failure in creating an Iraqi security force indicates that the US is now at, or will soon reach, a military crisis point in the occupation.

For those who doubt the validity of running the numbers, the recent attack by rebels on a US firebase in Mosul provides a grim rebuttal.

I. By the numbers

In the attack as many as 50 insurgents attacked the US firebase, and they wounded 15 Americans, one of whom has since died from his wounds.

First let us look at casualty rates. Because the insurgents were attacking a firebase, it is likely that all 25 dead are guerilla fighters, at the low end would be that air support killed a few non-combatants. It is also likely that most of those who escaped are not casualties, in that they will not be lost to combat. The rebels, without medivac infrastructure, face a grim proposition where wounded means dead.

Under usual rates for insurgents, perhaps 12 of those who escaped were wounded and 10 would turn out to be casualties. Or between 20 and 35 casualties inflicted on the rebells.

For the US - given current trends of fatalities being approximately 15% of serious wounds gives an estimate of 6 US casualties as the low end. However, among 14 wounded, the casualty rate, one would expect 8 to be casualties on the ration of serious to non-serious wonds. Or a range of 7 casualties - 6 wounded 1 dead - as the low end expectation and 9 casualties on the high end.

This results in a range from a best case ratio of 35/6 = 5.8 and a worse case scenario of 20/9= 2.2 with a probable expecation of 4.

Now for the bad news, an occupying army losing at 1:4 against insurgents, in general, is treading water. They are not making any progress against the rebellion, and while they will be able to maintain power as long as they can recruit new troops, they are locked in what can be called "quagmire".

Now for the very bad news - most of the insurgent casualties, according to the army personnel statements made - were from the employment of "close air support". This means that ground soldier for ground soldier the rebels are far closer in combat capability to US forces than the numbers indicate.

Now for the extremely bad news - the rebels were engaged in a very dangerous offensive mission against a hard target. This was a high risk opperation, and it means that this casualty rate is what the rebels could execute if they were trying to push the US off the map. With 1:4 rates, that means that the rebels could push 100 US troops out of a city if they could mount between 500 to 750 offensively deployable rebels. These numbers are attainable for the rebellion at their current rates of recruitment.

II. Trap, Strike, Bleed, Shatter

The Mosul attack was a gamble for the insurgency, and its failure shows where they are on the spectrum of progress of guerilla war. The stages of a guerilla army are to trap, strike, bleed and shatter the occupation. The US is trapped in Mosul as a firebase, and the ambushes, such as the one on Wednesday, show that the rebels are able to execute strikes on US forces. The mess hall attack was proof that they could execute ambushes against troops "behind the lines", as they have ambushed Iraqi government security troops.

The over-run attempt was an attempt at a "shatter". It's failure indicates that the rebellion is not, presently, a threat to throw Iraq into turmoil, and "liberate" areas from Coalition control. Note I say coalition control. Because the situation with the Iraqi Government security forces is different. If the Coalition is treading water, the technical term for the Iraqi Security forces is "fresh meat". The very same guerilla attack which failed against the coalition, would have driven out an Iraqi security group.

The guerilla command, and it is clear that there is some nominal form of networked control, must take a great deal of satisfaction that ground for ground they can fight the best defenses in country, and are superior to the Iraqi security forces.

In short, only by US will, and the ability to sustain casualties to our core warrior class, is Iraq being held stable.

III. A Short History of Stupidity

The story of the US attempts to create an Iraqi security force are a festival of folly. From using Chalabi's unreliable "Free Iraqi Forces", to the disbanding of the Iraqi army, through appointing Samir Shakir Mahoud al-Sameadi, a man with no ability or experience organizing security forces - as the architect and then interior minister of the second generation of security forces, through the mismanagement of the pipeline security - which haas failed to prevent more and larger strikes against oil infrastructure - to the ineffective "Iraqi National Guard", slated to be disbanded early in January, months ahead of schedule. The entire story is a parade of bad decisions on top of which have been slapped some name meant to evoke World War II or Americanism - and instead have been motly assortment of mercenaries and raw recruits, lead by individuals who have little to no tactical, strategic, political or military understanding.

That the would be central government does not have an armed force at its disposal, that it cannot protect its own police stations, bases, recruiting and transportation centers, or even its heavily fortified green zone and oil infrastructure - indicates that the trend towards disassociation from it will continue. Indeed, the stage is ripe for an internal coup run by those who can at least recruit and train a force of "storm troopers".

The parallels to other post-colonial failures, particularly the Diem regime in Vietnam, will not escape commentators. The inability of the United States to appoint individuals in our occupation authority, or in our military liason to the Iraqi government, will be noted. The casualty rates of the Iraqi government forces have already been understood by the locals, who realize that the pay simply isn't worth that hazard.

IV. Conclusions

The Mosul attack, while a tactical defeat for the guerillas, points to a troubling underlying truth: it is only with fortifications, superior armor and close air support that the US maintains military superiority on the ground over the insurgency. The insurgency is close to being able to mount successful shatter attack on fortified US positions.

These very factors are creating a vulnerability. Until now, US air support could be well out of reach of insurgent ability to counter attack. In order to execute close air support, greater vulnerability of air forces to ground based SAM and small arms fire will occur, which opens high value, both in equipment and personnel, casualties more likely. Given the past ability of the rebellion to exploit vulnerabilities, it is a question of when, not if, they will learn to execute on aircraft as they have against M-1 tanks.

This implies that the situation with respect to the Iraqi government's own security forces is much more grim, that the guerillas have ground tactical superiority over their government counterparts, and that this a direct result of mismanagement by the political leadership in the US. Without an army to hand power to, there is no exit strategy, other than "declare defeat and go home". Without a civilian lead military structure capable of suppressing the rebellion, the way is cleared for a coup by either nationalist or theocratic elements, or a combination of both, capable of mounting a short sudden strike against the Green Zone and key parts of the oil infrastructure.

The Mosul attack confirms the general trend of casualty numbers asserted in the previous, namely that the US is at virtual break even against the insurgency on the ground, and that this represents an non-sustainable drain on our pool of available force

I would point out that the helicopter support has already been reduced to fast moving Blackhawks hopping from base to base at nap of the earth and armored attack helos. There are no heliborne operations in Iraq. The US is as roadbound in Iraq as the French were in Indochina. Using US doctrine, US units should be able to insert battalion-sized forces into guerrilla areas. The problem is that the large numbers of RPG's make such assaults impossible. And once the US is road bound, all that stolen RDX makes for a great way to deny highways and railways to the US.

And the Iraqi Army and their top company and battalion commanders clearly have gone over to the resistance. There are too many instances of Iraqis acting in ways only trained soldiers can, like launching company sized attacks, which does not come from guerrilla training. The people who can lead, are leading, troops against us. And the longer it goes on, the more the locals will ally with the resistance.

posted by Steve @ 1:54:00 PM

1:54:00 PM

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The One ID card

One ID card to rule them all

Single Government ID Moves Closer to Reality
High-Tech Cards Are Designed to Bolster Security

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A25

Federal officials are developing government-wide identification card standards for federal employees and contractors to prevent terrorists, criminals and other unauthorized people from getting into government buildings and computer systems.

The effort, known as the Personal Identity Verification Project, stems from a homeland security-related presidential directive and is being managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Commerce Department agency with offices in Gaithersburg.

In his Aug. 27 directive, President Bush said that "wide variations in the quality and security of forms of identification used to gain access to secure federal and other facilities where there is potential for terrorist attacks need to be eliminated." Bush called for the development of "secure and reliable forms of identification" for federal workers and contract employees.


"There's wide variations in the quality and security of the forms of identification that people use to get access to federal facilities," he said. ". . . To be completely foolproof will be extraordinarily difficult, but we can raise the risk for the terrorist or other person who wants to fraudulently enter a facility and make it a little bit more difficult for them to get in."

The common standard also will enable many employees who shuttle between departments to enter different buildings with one card. NIST, which has spent about $1 million on the project so far, expects to complete the new standards by late February. Employees could start using the new cards as early as fall 2005, Barker said.

Several departments, notably defense, transportation and interior, began developing more secure, high-tech ID cards long before Bush issued the directive, he said. The trend ultimately could affect private sector workers, as well. Experts say the federal government's adoption of tighter ID card standards could spur more private businesses to follow suit.

Some federal employees have concerns about the new cards.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents more than 150,000 federal workers in 30 agencies, said the proposed standard would permit agencies to print employees' pay grade and rank on the new cards, which many workers would consider an invasion of privacy.

"For example, an agency might seize upon this technology as a means to track employees as they move throughout a building," Kelley said in written comments to NIST last week. "That is troubling, standing alone. It would be particularly objectionable if the agency tried to track visits to particular sites such as the union office, Employee Assistance Program offices and the inspector general's office."

And it took four years to figure this out?

posted by Steve @ 10:24:00 AM

10:24:00 AM

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Domestic Violence

I never thought I'd be posting under an anonymous name. I never thought a day like yesterday would happen. Not to me. I'm normal.

It was a normal day, and I drove my normal car home from my normal work to my normal house and my normal husband. We had a normal dinner. We watched some normal tv. Then we started talking. Soon it was an argument. That's normal too. For us, anyway, every now and then.

But what happened next wasn't normal at all. My husband exploded. My funny, sweet, kind husband. Angrily shouting. Blue veins popping out on his forehead. He was leaning forward, a few inches from my face. We were sitting side by side on the couch. I put one hand on each of his shoulders, and held him out at arm's length. Maybe I pushed him backward. If so it was wrong. I honestly don't remember.

He is much bigger than me. 80 pounds heavier. And I am pregnant. How it happened, I don't know. But all of a sudden he was beating me. Standing with one foot on the floor and the other knee pinning me down, he beat me. I was punched in the arm, the back, the chest, the top of my head. Before he walked away he punched me in the stomach. My pregnant stomach.

He walked away and I cried on the couch. In pain, in disbelief, in fear for the baby we both had wanted. He came back, told me to stop my crying. I could not. He yelled more. Then he got quiet, put his hand on my leg and told me he was sorry.

If I could afford a hotel, I would have left last night. Instead I locked myself in our bedroom with the phone after tossing his pillow and some blankets out into the hallway. He slept on the couch. The couch he beat me on. I left for work before he was awake. My face is perfect. The rest of me aches. Nothing hurts more than my broken heart. There is one ray of sunshine left, the baby is still kicking today. Heartbeat in the 140's. We were so happy to be pregnant, we bought a home machine to listen.

But today I am lost. Totally and completely. I have known this man 6 years. We lived together nearly two years before we were married. I never thought he would be capable of this. His temper before consisted of yelling things he regretted later. I have done the same. He has never punched walls, hurt the pets, or had problems with work or with family or friends. He has never been jealous or controlling. He does not drink, and does not do drugs.

I wish I had the courage to use my real user name. I do not. I know it sounds stupid to say this and post anonymously. But I am posting this because it declares to the world that I have become something I never thought I'd be: a beaten wife. With an abusive husband. I went to work today, it was only a half day. Those few hours were excruciating. To the rest of the world I am still normal. I chatted at the water cooler. I griped about the shopping left to do, the presents left to wrap, the cookies left to bake, and upcoming visits with the in-laws. Now I am someone totally different than who they knew. At least I feel completely different. The old me died last night.

For some reason I just wanted to say that. Even if I can't say it as myself.

She got some sound advice, mostly on getting the hell out of that situation

Thank you all for your thoughts, kind words, advice and encouragement.

I am at home now, as I was when I wrote the post above. At that time TH ("the husband" since I do not want to use DH) was not home from work but he is now. He is wrapping Christmas presents in the living room. Carols are playing on the stereo. It is very surreal.

I used to think I would never put up with such behavior, one strike and you're out, literally. It was an easy enough thing to think when it was hypothetical. I could not understand how someone could stay with a man who'd hit her. I still can't. In threads past I have replied, or at least thought it, if I didn't write it, that of course the only next step was to leave. Permanently. But here I am. Maybe I'm just not tough enough. But I don't want to leave. I don't want to be beaten either, I just want my life back. Yesterday I was on top of the world, whether I knew it or not. We were happy. We were not perfect, but we were in love. We were decorating our baby's nursery. We were looking forward to Christmas. We each took off next week to spend time together. Now I am in a black hole. We had a life we had built together. I did not plan to be alone. I certainly did not plan to be alone and a mother.

He has apologized. He has cried. He has also tried to downplay what happened. I looked him in the eye and told him he could not make excuses, that he was a wifebeater and would go to his grave a wifebeater. It was only a question of whether he would have made that mistake once, or twice. I would never be nearby enough for there to be a third time. That was when he started crying. Such brave words, words I never thought I'd hear myself say because I thought I would never leave the door open for a second time. But here I sit. I wonder if I'm crazy? I know I didn't deserve this. I know it's his fault. But I had a husband, a family, a home, a life. I don't want to start over. I just want everything to be the way it was.

This came totally from the blue for me. Today I googled "domestic violence warning signs" and nothing rang a bell. Not one damn thing. I mentioned his only expression of anger in the past had been yelling stupid things he regretted later. These seemed so tame at the time. I thought this was normal. I have done it too. Is it really so odd? If we argued (say over visiting family) he might say "I never liked your sister anyway!" and apologize later. I've said stupid things too. I've slammed a few doors in my life. I thought that was normal. Has my judgment been so wrong all along? I know most of his old girlfriends. He has never been a violent person.

I have some questions. I don't know if anyone can answer them. Police reports have been mentioned. If we stay together, will his legal past come up with his credit history? What about a background search if he wants to switch jobs, or loses his job and has to apply elsewhere? It would hurt me and the baby too to endanger his job or credit rating. He makes more than three times what I do. What happens when our baby is born? Will there be a problem with DCFS? Will my baby be taken away if I report him, but stay with him?

I have no idea if this will happen again. That's the plain truth. 24 hours ago I'd have said it would never happen once. TH was my best friend. It is so nauseatingly bizarrely unbelievable that I could be asking questions tonight about the consequences of reporting my husband to the police.

After more advice she posted the following

I haven't been able to log on the past few days. We visited the in-laws and their computer with internet access is in the living room. I am overwhelmed to return to this outpouring of support. My simple 'thank you' seems so small in comparison. Some of you who have posted are nearby. I am grateful to know I am not as completely alone as I feel.

Physically, I am well. The baby is active with a good heartbeat. Emotionally, I am still a wreck. There are moments now of normalcy when it seems nothing ever happened. And there are moments when it is so real I cry as if it were five minutes ago. Days of smiling fakely for the IL's have left me feeling numb more than anything else. I want to reach back into that "once upon a time" and rescue the family we were supposed to be.

I have a bag packed at the door, I told TH it was a hospital bag in case I go into labor early. I have not opened an individual savings or checking account because I am afraid a statement would be mailed here and TH would find out about it. I have transferred "our" balances to "his" credit cards. We never added each other as a user but kept our own cards separate. Now my credit cards are empty should I ever need them. And I made copies of his car keys and have them in the "hospital" bag.

Whether our marriage will continue I can't say. I could only forgive if he were truly sorry and I don't know if he is. I can't see into his heart anymore. Now and then he still seems like my best friend. Mostly he is a stranger to me. This is not the man I knew, not the man I loved and married, not the man I wanted a baby with. I want to believe that man is not gone forever.

A friend sent this to me.

I want to make two points. A man who so loses his temper and hits a pregnant woman in her stomach is on the road to murdering her. Pregancy can be one of the most dangerous times in a woman's life. It doesn't take much to go from hitting to murder, as a Washington Post series showed.

Second, waiting to get hit again is silly, because it will happen again. He will hit her, and hit her even harder. Maybe just kill her outright. Anyone that mean can do anything at any time.

Apologies are bullshit. He punched her in her stomach. He was trying to harm her and her baby. Preganancy changes people, and turns some of them into murderers. Laci Peterson is testimony to that, but hardly alone. The WaPo estimated around 1300 pregnant women a year are murdered by husbands and spouses.

Once someone crosses the line into violence, they stay there unless forced to change.

posted by Steve @ 2:57:00 AM

2:57:00 AM

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The iPod

Podcasts bring DIY radio to the web
By Clark Boyd
Technology correspondent

An Apple iPod or other digital music players can hold anything up to 10,000 songs, which is a lot of space to fill.

Apple iPod
'Podcasting' grew from a program that put audio directly onto iPods
But more and more iPod owners are filling that space with audio content created by an unpredictable assortment of producers.

It is called "podcasting" and its strongest proponent is former MTV host and VJ (video jockey) Adam Curry.

Podcasting takes its name from the Apple iPod, although you do not need an iPod to create one or to listen to a podcast.

A podcast is basically an internet-based radio show which podcasters create, usually in the comfort of their own home.

They need only a microphone, a PC, and some editing software. They then upload their shows to the internet and others can download and listen to them, all for free.

Using technology based on XML computer code and RSS - Really Simple Syndication - listeners can subscribe to podcasts collected automatically in a bit of software, which Mr Curry has pioneered.

The latest MP3 files of shows can then be picked up by a music playing device automatically.

Curry code

Mr Curry records, hosts, edits and produce a daily, 40 minute podcast called The Daily Source Code.

He wants to make podcasting "the Next Big Thing" and says it is an extension of his childhood love of radio gadgetry.

"I was always into technologies and wires," he explains. "My parents gave me the Radio Shack 101 project kit, which allows you to build an AM transmitter and subsequently an FM transmitter.

"I had my mom drive me around the block, see how far it would reach on the car radio."


Mr Curry is American, but he grew up in the Netherlands where he hosted illegal, pirate radio shows in the Dutch capital. He tried university in the US, and ended up back in Holland where he hosted a music video show.

He spent the next seven years in New York where he worked at MTV hosting the Top 20 Video Countdown, but spent most of his hours tinkering with this new thing called the internet.

"At a certain point in 1995, I was driving in on a Friday afternoon, beautiful blue sky, one of those beautiful days thinking, this is so stupid.

"You know, I'm going do the Top 20 Countdown, take the cheque, go home, and sit on the internet until three in the morning.

"So, after I finished the show, I quit. I said, on air, it's been great, I've been here for seven years at that point, there's something on the internet, I've got to go find it, and I'll see you later."

Podding on

But Mr Curry's technology and broadcast interests started to gel a couple of years ago when computer storage was growing exponentially and high-speed internet connections were becoming more widely available.

The MP3 format also meant that people could create and upload audio more cheaply and efficiently than ever before.

Most importantly, Mr Curry says, people across the globe were bored with the radio they were hearing.

"Listen to 99% of the radio that you hear today, it's radio voices, and it's fake, it's just fake."

Clark Boyd is technology correspondent for The World, a BBC World Service and WGBH-Boston co-production.

Which is why streaming MP3 stations are booming. Shoutcast has thousands of stations which simply play music which cannot be heard in a Clear Channel world.

Radio never played the best cuts, but man, now, except for Howard Stern, why bother listening. Air America is simulcast over the net and on sattelite radio.

When Jen came over for Christmas, she asked me about my stereo. I don't have one. I have a radio in my bedroom, but all my music is either on one of my machines or my MP3 player. Why do I need a stereo? To play MP3's on? It's cheaper to buy a sound card and good speakers. I certainly won't need a radio in 2006, at least one which plays terrestrial stations. The problem with current media is that they don't get the idea that their customers have moved beyond them to create a flexible media world. One where they can design the music they want, the way they want.

So I set up my speakers and my laptop and played Christmas music and it sounded just fine.

posted by Steve @ 12:39:00 AM

12:39:00 AM

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Yet another new Mac

displayless mac

EXCLUSIVE: Apple to drop sub-$500 Mac bomb at Expo
December 28, 2004 - With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Macworld Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499, highly reliable sources have confirmed to Think Secret.

The new Mac, code-named Q88, will be part of the iMac family and is expected to sport a PowerPC G4 processor at a speed around 1.25GHz. The new Mac is said to be incredibly small and will be housed in a flat enclosure with a height similar to the 1.73 inches of Apple's Xserve. Its size benefits will include the ability to stand the Mac on its side or put it below a display or monitor.

Along with lowering costs by forgoing a display (Apple's entry-level eMac sells for $799 with a built-in 17-inch CRT display), the so-called "headless" iMac will allow Apple's target audience -- Windows users looking for a cheap, second PC -- to keep their current peripherals or decide on their own what to pair with the system, be it a high-priced LCD display or an inexpensive display. Sources expect the device to feature both DVI and VGA connectivity, although whether this will be provided through dual ports or through a single DVI port with a VGA adapter remains to be seen.

The new Mac is expected to have a Combo drive only, but will possibly have an upgrade path to a SuperDrive at a higher price. It is unclear how big the hard drive capacity will be, although sources indicate it will be between 40GB and 80GB.

Other expected features of the iMac include:

* 256MB of RAM
* USB 2.0
* FireWire 400
* 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
* 56K V.92 modem
* AirPort Extreme support

In terms of software, Apple will include a special iLife suite (minus iDVD) as well as AppleWorks, sources believe.

So what has changed to motivate Apple in producing a low-cost Mac? In a word, iPod.

"Think of your traditional iPod owner," said a source. "This new product will be for a Windows user who has experienced the iPod, the ease of use of the iTunes software, and has played around with a Mac at an Apple retail store just long enough to know he'd buy one if it were a little cheaper."

Apple executives announced on October 13 that 45% to 50% of its retail store customers bought a Mac as their first PC or were new to the platform in the fiscal fourth-quarter. The company has refused to divulge more exacting figures on iPod buyers who also buy a Mac, for competitive reasons.

According to sources, internal Apple surveys of its retail store customers and those buying iPods showed a large number of PC users would be willing to buy a Mac if it were cheap enough, less of a virus carrier than PCs (which all Macs already are), and offered easier to use software solutions not available on Windows-based PCs. Now, Apple feels it has the answer.

Apple has been working on the low-end Mac for almost a year, sources report. Indications are Apple has been working mostly on finding the right mix of price, performance and features that would motivate Windows users to consider a Mac, and less on the actual engineering of the product. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to design a bare-bones PC," said one source familiar with the project. "What it takes is a team of marketing and software experts to find the right mix to convince Windows users to buy a Mac at a price that is not much more than the cost of an iPod."

Sources familiar with the product cautioned that the low-end Mac will be marketed towards a totally different audience than those who traditionally buy even a $799 eMac. "This product is not going to be about performance," said a source close to Apple. "This is going to be the basics, but with just as much of a focus on software as any Mac could ever be."

So when it breaks, I won't have to take it to TekServe?

Look, stripping the Mac of a monitor isn't going to make it appeal any more. That just hides the price. The problem is that at the end of the day, it doesn't run Windows. Look, a cheaper Mac has long been needed, but more people switch from Mac to Windows than the other way around. The people who love MacOS will continue to use it. But the people who don't aren't going to buy a Mac with a legacy of Windows programs around. Yes, you can convert some to MacOS, but there are so many Windows only programs, switching isn't really a desirable option for a lot people without a ton of photoshop files.

I think Apple doesn't get how unpopular it is with a key decision making cohort: teenage boys. Apple's designers seem to have a feedback loop which caters to their current customers, designers, artists and people who aren't comfortable with technology. They sneer at games, something they will admit internally at Apple. And they wonder why only iPod's sell.

Even their iPod ads slant towards women and aesthetes. And they'll wonder why Creative or SONY will eventually own that market. The problem with that is that parents often assign technology decisions to teenagers, especially boys. Tech savvy girls slant the same way away from Apple. They want a fragbox just like the guys they beat online. Apple doesn't make Fragboxes.

Ask a teenager what they think of Macs, and the reaction is frighteningly negative. Of all the tech companies they relate to, Apple has the most negative image. They associate it with school and they don't want it in their personal lives. When they buy a computer, they want a black Dell. As they get older, they want better, more powerful machines. Apple just doesn't appeal to them. Sure, they may want an iPod, because it's cool, but no iMac.

People get pissy when you say this, but they forget, kids have a major role in the way technology dollars are spent. Apple thinks by getting them in school, they can get life long customers. Instead, they make life long enemies, people who detest the Apple brand for it's lack of coolness. Something used in school, but not for their serious gaming activities. Microsoft didn't extend their brand into gaming for no reason. The XBox and PS 2 are black for a reason.

I think that many of Apple decisions have served to alienate the people who would be their most loyal potential customers. I can tell you what happens with many people who walk into an Apple store.

The parents like the machine. The kid likes the machine. They go home. In a house without the tech savvy, they may well buy the machine. But if their teenage techie isn't with them, the odds are they will react badly. They'll explain how it doesn't run the right software (parents think something for school, kid thinks Half-Life 2), how much it costs, and how their friends all have PC's. They will make the coherent, countervailing argument, and Michael Dell has another $800 to send to Bush. Or maybe New Egg has a new home builder. Either way, Apple loses a sale.

I never got that particular blind spot. I remember this, because when my nephew was 13, he begged for a Dell. He had a perfectly functioning Mac, and he hated it like Satan was in the mobo. I didn't get it at the time. Because to me, the Mac worked fine. But it wasn't cool, it didn't play the right games, it was a Mac, and they had those in schools. This in a house with a PS2. They now have three machines, two XP laptops and that Dell. My nephew wouldn't buy a Mac if you bribed him.

I never understood Apple's resistance to gamning or designs which had an appeal beyond their core user group, their small core user group. Apple wants to grow, but it seems to only want to grow with people who agree with it. And there aren't enough of those to successfully challenge Windows.

It would be a lot healthier for the industry if Apple had a larger user share. But Apple's machines simply don't appeal to the people who are most likely to be constant, repeat buyers of technology, young men. As long as Apple refuses to admit their marketing simply misses the people who could grow their company, teenage boys and young adults, then it won't grow. The iPod is a good step, but not enough of a step to get people to switch platforms. Apple thinks that if you get a taste of their technology, you'll jump ship. The problem is that if you get a taste of Half-Life 2, you'll want a PC.

posted by Steve @ 12:06:00 AM

12:06:00 AM

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67 and already pregnant

Adriana Iliescu says she expects to live for many years yet

Romanian, 67, pregnant with twins

Romanian doctors say a 67-year-old woman is seven months pregnant with twin girls after fertility treatment.

If the pregnancy comes to full term, it is believed that Adriana Iliescu, an author and academic, will become the oldest recorded mother.

Mrs Iliescu told local television she had always wanted to be a mother but had been unable to conceive naturally.

She says she is optimistic about her future as a mother, claiming her family has a history of longevity.

Has she seen a four year old in action?

posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM

12:04:00 AM

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We're not winning, are we?

Peekaboo in Fallujah

Maginot Minds In Washington Gloss Over The Truth In Iraq

By Georgie Anne Geyer



Today in Iraq (news - web sites), American officials are having to face their own verbal and rhetorical Maginot Lines. Our "answer" has been that we can get out when Iraqi forces are trained, when elections are held, and when Iraqis themselves win back the country from the "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "guerrillas" (or whatever we finally determine they are).

But in only the last two weeks, American generals and civilian officials are, in fact, admitting that they have their own similar Maginot Line problems. In Mosul, the Iraqi police force has "faded away." American generals speak of a "virtual connectivity" of the insurgents never seen before, as they use the Internet to pass along techniques, tactics and advice to one another. American generals now admit that almost all of them are Iraqis; we have created the Iraqi terrorists who were not there before.

Take only the astoundingly candid analysis, based in part on an interview with Gen. John Abizaid, the senior U.S. military commander in the region, by CNN's excellent Pentagon (news - web sites) correspondent, Barbara Starr, on television last Sunday.

Starr reported: "Senior U.S. military sources in the region tell CNN the city of Mosul has been wracked by violence for weeks. Local Iraqi security forces have virtually melted away, say those officials. One senior U.S. officer tells CNN, we have no Iraqi police force up in Mosul today.

"The problem in getting Iraqis to fight the insurgency may be deeper across Iraq. The military assessment now is that the U.S. miscalculated Iraqi tribal and religious loyalties and did not realize Iraqis are likely to fight only for their brethren ... So in cases like Mosul, they simply will not fight the intimidation of the insurgents, the U.S. now believes."

And remember, until now Mosul was one of our success stories!


The truth no one really wants to deal with is that this war could very easily be lost by the United States. All the insurgents have to do is hang on another year. All we have to do is what the French and the British did in their colonies: Let themselves be exhausted and finally destroyed by their hubris, their delusions and their arrogant lack of understanding of the local people.

No shit.

Could be lost? I'd say IS BEING LOST.

Unless exploding mess tents and slit police throats is a sign of victory.

It is even worse than Geyer says.

The population isn't being intimidated, they're working with the resistance. There are no massacres of civilians, no killing of neutrals, just people who work for the Americans. Which is truly frightening. They know who to kill

posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 AM

12:02:00 AM

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Pray or else, pt II

fuck with my wife's prayer breakfast and you'll pay

State worker tells of scrutiny
Labor Department employee says he has been retaliated against after complaints about a superior's actions

By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau
First published: Wednesday, December 29, 2004

ALBANY -- Michael Cunningham says he can't sleep most nights because of the retaliation he's endured from his bosses at the state Department of Labor.

Since questioning a deputy commissioner's use of state resources to promote Gov. George Pataki's prayer breakfast, Cunningham says he's had to seek professional help to cope with "the constant waiting for -- what are they going to try to do to you next?"

Cunningham revealed Tuesday that he had complained to the state Inspector General's Office about a superior at the Labor Department who e-mailed other officials to drum up attendance at Pataki's prayer breakfast in May. He decided to go public, he said, after reading an account in Monday's Times Union about a State Liquor Authority employee, Patricia Freund, who is suing state officials for allegedly retaliating against her for asking questions about employees attending the governor's annual prayer breakfast on state time.

Cunningham, 53, of Colonie, a 25-year state employee and the Labor Department's director of training the past 16 years, still gets his salary of $101,634. He still arranges for staff development programs. But since this summer, when he complained to the Inspector General about Mary L. Hines, deputy commissioner for administration and public affairs, he has been moved out of the executive suite of the Labor Department, investigated for his travel to New York City and told to discontinue many routine business trips.

"I've really been beaten up since then," said Cunningham, who is considering a suit against the state in U.S. District Court.

Kevin Quinn, a Pataki spokesman, said, "This has nothing to do with the breakfast. This is an internal state Department of Labor personnel matter."

Cunningham said his authority has been undermined and his activities heavily scrutinized. He said Hines and Labor Commissioner Linda Angello hired a friend, Pam Kelly, for a newly created civil service post -- organizational development specialist -- to take some of his responsibilities.

Further, he said, his son's hourly job at the Labor Department was abolished by Hines.

In a letter to Hines Dec. 3, Cunningham's lawyer, John R. Saccocio, said his client's performance was consistently rated "outstanding."

"Prior to your arrival," he told Hines, "Mr. Cunningham had never filed a formal complaint."


Cunningham says Hines ordered an investigation of a trip he took to New York City in October to meet with staff there. The probe resulted in a memo directing him to take 1 hours off his attendance record for checking into his hotel at 3 p.m.; quitting time was supposed to be 4:30 p.m. on the trip.

The heavy scrutiny, personal slights and potentially improper treatment have taken their toll, he said. In an evaluation, his doctor, H. Kip Arnold, described Cunningham as depressed, anxious, and distraught, and wrote, "His symptoms seem clearly work-related."

His psychologist, Jessica Seidenberg, said in a letter she provided Cunningham that he is experiencing severe anxiety, moderate depression, poor sleep and high blood pressure. "It is my professional opinion that the conditions at his work place need to be improved so he can experience relief from the stressful conditions he has had to endure," she wrote.

Seidenberg noted that Cunningham's illnesses relate to a job where he is "highly regarded in his position but . . . has been troubled by "recent interactions with the deputy commissioner."

Cunningham says he isn't trying to be an activist "but I do know right from wrong."

Right. They're making waves about the governor's wife pet project. Ooops

posted by Steve @ 12:00:00 AM

12:00:00 AM

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Idiot students whine about coursework

Ignorant fuck

Conservative students, liberal profs
Latest fight pits teachers against pupils

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 Posted: 2:06 PM EST (1906 GMT)

(AP) -- At the University of North Carolina, three incoming freshmen sue over a reading assignment they say offends their Christian beliefs.

In Colorado and Indiana, a national conservative group publicizes student allegations of left-wing bias by professors. Faculty get hate mail and are pictured in mock "wanted" posters; at least one college says a teacher received a death threat.

And at Columbia University in New York, a documentary film alleging that teachers intimidate students who support Israel draws the attention of administrators.

The three episodes differ in important ways, but all touch on an issue of growing prominence on college campuses.

Traditionally, clashes over academic freedom have pitted politicians or administrators against instructors who wanted to express their opinions and teach as they saw fit. But increasingly, it is students who are invoking academic freedom, claiming biased professors are violating their right to a classroom free from indoctrination.

In many ways, the trend echoes past campus conflicts -- but turns them around. Once, it was liberal campus activists who cited the importance of "diversity" in pressing their agendas for curriculum change. Now, conservatives have adopted much of the same language in calling for a greater openness to their viewpoints.

Similarly, academic freedom guidelines have traditionally been cited to protect left-leaning students from punishment for disagreeing with teachers about such issues as American neutrality before World War II and U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Now, those same guidelines are being invoked by conservative students who support the war in Iraq.

To many professors, there's a new and deeply troubling aspect to this latest chapter in the debate over academic freedom: students trying to dictate what they don't want to be taught.

"Even the most contentious or disaffected of students in the '60s or early '70s never really pressed this kind of issue," said Robert O'Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and now director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.
'It puts a chill in the air'

Those behind the trend call it an antidote to the overwhelming liberal dominance of university faculties. But many educators, while agreeing students should never feel bullied, worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge their core beliefs -- an essential part of education.

Some also fear teachers will shy away from sensitive topics, or fend off criticism by "balancing" their syllabuses with opposing viewpoints, even if they represent inferior scholarship.

"Faculty retrench. They are less willing to discuss contemporary problems and I think everyone loses out," said Joe Losco, a professor of political science at Ball State University in Indiana who has supported two colleagues targeted for alleged bias. "It puts a chill in the air."

A recent study by Santa Clara University researcher Daniel Klein estimated that among social science and humanities faculty members nationwide, Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one; in some fields it's as high as 30 to one. And in the last election, the two employers whose workers contributed the most to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign were the University of California system and Harvard University.

Many teachers insist personal politics don't affect teaching. But in a recent survey of students at 50 top schools by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group that has argued there is too little intellectual diversity on campuses, 49 percent reported at least some professors frequently commented on politics in class even if it was outside the subject matter.

Thirty-one percent said they felt there were some courses in which they needed to agree with a professor's political or social views to get a good grade.

Leading the movement is the group Students for Academic Freedom, with chapters on 135 campuses and close ties to David Horowitz, a one-time liberal campus activist turned conservative commentator. The group posts student complaints on its Web site about alleged episodes of grading bias and unbalanced, anti-American propaganda by professors -- often in classes, such as literature, in which it's off-topic.

Instructors "need to make students aware of the spectrum of scholarly opinion," Horowitz said. "You can't get a good education if you're only getting half the story."

Conservatives claim they are discouraged from expressing their views in class, and are even blackballed from graduate school slots and jobs.

"I feel like (faculty) are so disconnected from students that they do these things and they can just get away with them," said Kris Wampler, who recently publicly identified himself as one of the students who sued the University of North Carolina. Now a junior, he objected when all incoming students were assigned to read a book about the Quran before they got to campus.

So far, his and other efforts are having mixed results. At UNC, the students lost their legal case, but the university no longer uses the word "required" in describing the reading program for incoming students (the plaintiffs' main objection).


Horowitz, who has also criticized Ball State's program, had little sympathy when asked if Wolfe deserved to get hate e-mails from strangers.

"These people are such sissies," he said. "I get hate mail every single day. What can I do about it? It's called the Internet."


Okay, so some "liberal arts students" are suing UNC because reading the Koran as an assignment "offends their Christian values?" Someone turn off the fucking gravity there, since it was discovered by flaming homo Isaac Newton...while we're at it, let's turn off the campus water filtration system and rely on faith healing for dystentary since germ theory goes against the Almighty as well....

Do these fucktards deserve to be locked in a room with each other for all eternity or what?

Fucking veal. They go to Christian schools, live in gated communities, go to one church and they expect the world to be like that. Well, they are gonna get the shock of their little lives when they get a job. If they want to remain ignorant, go to Bible college. And if these little asshats are such patriots, they should be in Iraq, not in a college classroom. The real world isn't their suburb and if they act that way in the work world, they're gonna find themselves fired real quick.

posted by Steve @ 6:29:00 PM

6:29:00 PM

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Cheap bastards

tidal waves kill more

Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence

By John F. Harris and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 29, 2004; Page A01

The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.

As the death toll surpassed 50,000 with no sign of abating, the U.S. Agency for International Development added $20 million to an earlier pledge of $15 million to provide relief, and the Pentagon dispatched an aircraft carrier and other military assets to the region. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in morning television appearances, chafed at a top U.N. aid official's comment on Monday that wealthy countries were being stingy with aid. "The United States is not stingy," Powell said on CNN.

Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.

After a day of repeated inquiries from reporters about his public absence, Bush late yesterday afternoon announced plans to hold a National Security Council meeting by teleconference to discuss several issues, including the tsunami, followed by a short public statement.

Bush's deepened public involvement puts him more in line with other world figures. In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder cut short his vacation and returned to work in Berlin because of the Indian Ocean crisis, which began with a gigantic underwater earthquake. In Britain, the predominant U.S. voice speaking about the disaster was not Bush but former president Bill Clinton, who in an interview with the BBC said the suffering was like something in a "horror movie," and urged a coordinated international response.

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official 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.' "

Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.

Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

There was an international outpouring of support after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and even some administration officials familiar with relief efforts said they were surprised that Bush had not appeared personally to comment on the tsunami tragedy. "It's kind of freaky," a senior career official said.


Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who is frequently outspoken in favor of U.S. humanitarian ventures, said he believes the initial U.S. response has been appropriate, even without a public role for Bush. "I think the world knows we're a very generous people," he said.

Still, the United Nations' Egeland complained on Monday that each of the richest nations gives less than 1 percent of its gross national product for foreign assistance, and many give 0.1 percent. "It is beyond me why we are so stingy, really," he told reporters.

And interrupt his vacation over dead wogs? Are you kidding? The Pollyanna President doesn't ruin his vacation because some brown people drowned.

Just because Indonesians will remember our indifference, and they are the largest Muslim nation on earth, hey, shit happens.

posted by Steve @ 3:22:00 PM

3:22:00 PM

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Goose soup

goose soup

Hey, Jen left me with a goose carcass and veggies. So it's soup time. Any suggestions?

I'm thinking goose soup for dinner. But I need some clue as to how to go about it.

posted by Steve @ 1:58:00 PM

1:58:00 PM

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No makeup, no job

this may help you keep your job

Court backs firing of waitress without makeup

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 Posted: 4:18 PM EST (2118 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah's Entertainment Inc casino bar in Reno, Nevada, objected to the company's revised policy that required female bartenders, but not men, to wear makeup.

A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a "Beverage Department Image Transformation" program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Harrah's. All three judges are males appointed by Democratic presidents.

"We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority.

He cited the precedent of a 1974 case in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women.


Bullshit on Parade!

I will point out that Jen does wear makeup when she goes to work, and occasionally when we go to dinner. But then she likes to. No one is forcing her to.

The problem is that it's not a sex issue but a dress code issue. Where companies can require being clean shaven and no jewlery on men, they can require makeup on women. And if it doesn't pass muster in the 9th Circuit, well, it's pretty much not going to make it anywhere. No company is going to require men as part of a normal dress code t wear makeup. But they can limit mustaches and beards. Companies have a great deal of lattitude in enforcing dress codes, as Jen can tell you with her current employer.

Is it fair? Not really, but it isn't illegal.

posted by Steve @ 1:57:00 PM

1:57:00 PM

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Firefox and Open Source

King of Open Source

An open-source slam dunk

In the summer of 1999, Salon was invited to observe a showdown at PC Week's testing labs in Foster City, Calif., between Microsoft Windows and Linux. The atmosphere was tense. The Linux representatives were young and arrogant; Microsoft's were middle-aged and arrogant. But at perhaps no moment did the Microsoft reps' self-satisfaction shine through more irritatingly than when they noted the superiority of their in-house approach to software development as compared to the collaborative, distributed, open-source way of doing business. Look at the browser market, one marketing manager noted. A year before, Netscape had released the code to its browser and started the Mozilla project. But it was going nowhere, and in the meantime Internet Explorer 5.0 was taking over.

To open-source advocates, the comment was cutting. Netscape had generated oodles of media hype when it released the source code to its browser, but there was no denying Microsoft's ensuing total domination of the market.

At Salon, we've covered the saga of Mozilla closely ever since, and we've marked several points at which we thought the Mozilla browser had made significant progress. But it often seemed we were shouting at deaf ears. Internet Explorer continued to reign supreme, and when we told our friends and relatives that there was an alternative, they looked at us kind of funny -- like: all that free software stuff was cute back in 1999, but now you're beginning to sound like one of those freaks who still think the Amiga computer is set for a big comeback.

Then came 2004, the release of the 1.0 version of Firefox, the stand-alone Mozilla browser, and the consequent first decline in Microsoft's browser market share in years.

Back in 1999, everything happened on Internet time. But writing good code isn't easy to speed up. Firefox is welcome proof that open-source software programs can be user friendly, easy to install, and competitive with Microsoft. If Salon awarded a Program of the Year medal, it would go to Firefox.

Here's the problem: Linux advocates are eager to define Open Source as Linux. Wackos like Richard Stallman (and I have the tape to prove he's one) take credit for it. But in reality, Open Source is an idea anyone can use. Hell, most games have a limited form of it, allowing for massive modifications. Open Source is, and will always be more than Linux, although that is the most ambitious project using that ideology. But too many people have been eager to comingle the two.

"Oh, Firefox is open source, just like Linux"

Well, no, anyone can use Firefox. Just because Firefos uses the Open Source ideology doesn't mean it's a harbinger of good things for Linux. What it does mean is that an organized, focused approach for application development works.

Which means if Firefox can take on IE, which is embedded into Windows, then a similar group can take on Word. Which is the real obsticle for wider Linux adoption. Firefox is a route to success, if people take it.

posted by Steve @ 1:55:00 PM

1:55:00 PM

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Warning: Wal Mart lowering prices again

Slave laborers heading to another day in the salt mines. hurry up son, before the greeter lays his whip on us

WalMart Begins Massive PSYOPs Campaign to Sell More Crap that People Don't Need or Want :.

Just don't buy it. This horror show ends if people stop shopping at WalMart. It's that simple. (It's not really that simple, but it's a damn good start.):

Stung by its poor showing over the Thanksgiving weekend, Wal-Mart Stores - which accounts for about 10 percent of the nation's retail sales, excluding autos - is quickly changing some selling strategies, executives said yesterday. Starting today, it is marking down two dozen of its most popular toys and electronics, from Elmos (now $16.88, they were $26.78) to portable DVD players ($149.87, formerly $179.87) to Black & Decker electric jar openers ($28.42, down from $34.88).

Yesterday's across-the-board retailing numbers for November were mixed, with the gap widening between the "haves," namely luxury stores, and the "have-nots," discounters and midlevel department stores whose customers are suffering most from high gasoline prices. And while retailers reported that the day after Thanksgiving was strong, the rest of the weekend, for many, did not live up to expectations.

Wal-Mart will also begin an unusual advertising blitz this morning. Wal-Mart, which does not usually advertise in newspapers - preferring the monthly color circular - will run full-page ads in 15 major markets and 35 secondary markets, Mona Williams, the vice president for communications, said yesterday. Next week, Wal-Mart will introduce seven 15-second television spots.

In addition, Wal-Mart, with $253 billion in sales last year, will run an Internet "circular" for the first time, giving it flexibility to reduce prices again if the competition gets too aggressive.

I wonder how Target and Costco are doing.

I mean, if you only have X dollars to spend, why spend it on cheap shit which will have to be replaced quickly. At least Target's stuff looks nice and the workers aren't treated like shit. I think Wal Mart's problems are not just due to the economy. I think that people are choosing to shop elsewhere. Some, for political reasons, some because of their return policy, some because they sell cheap shit.

If conservatives were smart, they'd go after Wal Mart as well. The company is in hock to the Chinese governemt and takes jobs from American workers. The Bentonville Hillbillies care about one thing, themselves. They give less than any other major corporation their size. McDonald's may treat the franchise workers like shit, but their generousity cannot be questioned. Wal Mart sells cheap and is cheap. Just because they give money to Bush doesn't mean they give a shit about this country. But then conservatives are easy to fool, wave the flag, mention Jesus and they run along like lap dogs

posted by Steve @ 1:31:00 PM

1:31:00 PM

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