Monday, July 21, 2003

Imagine a Debate Between 2 Guys: One can't speak and the other can't count . . .

Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham questioning the veracity of President Bush's Iraq pronouncements:

"I would not use the three-letter word. I would use the five-letter word: deceit."

How is this guy gonna balance the federal budget?

-- Chicago Sun-Times

Posted at 07:43 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)


Quote of the Day:

“More and more these days, we are seeing small children who have been traumatized by Ann Coulter,” says Dr. Harmon Densmore, chief clinical psychologist at the Chartwell Children’s Institute based at the University of Minnesota.

While Dr. Densmore urges parents to limit their children’s exposure to the banshee-like pundit, whose intemperate polemics flatten everyone and everything in their path, he acknowledges that keeping children away from Ms. Coulter entirely may be next to impossible.

“At any given moment in the cable TV universe, Ann Coulter is on the air somewhere,” Dr. Densmore says. “This makes a parent’s job, already hard, even harder.”

--The always amusing Borowitz Report

Posted at 05:17 PM in Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 18, 2003

Pat Robertson, God's Simp

Quote of the day:

"This is how God operates. He divides His time between remaking the entire universe at all times in all dimensions for every living creature everywhere, and giving a crap about whiny fundamentalist Christian zealots and their toxic sex phobias.

God is customizable. God force-fits into whatever narrow little channel of bilious self-righteousness the world's fanatics and their medicated perspective want Him to. This is the nature of God. He is supremely convenient. He can be used to back up almost any claim. He is rubber and you are glue and whatever you say bounces off him and sticks to you."

- Mark Morford, SF Gate July 18, 2003
"Pat Robertson, God's Simp"

Posted at 02:39 PM in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Poor George

Quote of the day:

'Meanwhile, in testimony before Congress, CIA director George Tenet acknowledged today that large sections of the President's State of the Union Address had been copied verbatim from the children's classic "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll.

Mr. Tenet took the blame for the inclusion of the "Alice" passages and also took responsibility for the National League's loss in Tuesday's Major League Baseball All Star Game.

"I don't know exactly what I had to do with the loss, but I'm pretty sure it was my fault," a contrite Mr. Tenet said. '

--The always amusing Borowitz Report

Posted at 03:11 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Don't do it!

whatever you do DON'T CLICK HERE
(don't say you weren't warned!)

Posted at 01:53 PM in Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 14, 2003

Dead Centagenarians

Senator Strom Thurmond vs Lord Shawcross

The differences between America and Great Britain are many and varied. Anglophiles in the U.S. take delight in the civilized manners, enchanting accents, even the charming differences between our version of English and the native version of the mother tongue.

Tony Blair's eloquence beguiles us, especially when compared to George W. Bush's syntax. We are intrigued by the skepticism of the State run BBC, compared with our own independent Fox News. Even when it comes to hardball politics, their "loyal opposition" at least appears articulate and civilized . . . while our partisan rancor bitterly devolves into one embarrassing display after another. (Assuming, of course, the "loyal opposition" even bothers to show up)

Perhaps no issue epitomizes what so many U.S. citizens find appealing about Jolly Old England than the recent twist of fate which befell both nations. You see, both countries suffered a loss in their Upper Houses of Government. Both Nations lost their oldest legislative member -- each man a centagenarian who had given many decades of service to his country.

In the U.S., Senator Strom Thurmond died at age 100 just a week ago. In one of those inexplicably odd coincidences, just a week later, the U.K. found itself mourning the loss of Lord Shawcross, aged 101.

On a lark, I made a quick comparison between these two Statesman. Their differences and similarities reveal as much about them as it does our two great nations:

Dead Centagenarian Strom Thurmond Lord Shawcross
Born December 5, 1902 February 2, 1902
Died June 26, 2003 July 10, 2003
Education Clemson College Dulwich College, the London School of Economics, University of Geneva
Political Affiliation Democrat until 1948, (bolted the party when Southern Democrats broke with President Harry S. Truman over civil rights), Independent (1948 Presidential campaign), Republican (1964) Labor Party
Nickname 'Ol Strom Sir Hartley Shawcross
Prior Offices Edgefield city and county attorney, South Carolina State Senator, Judge (S.C. 11th Circuit Court), Governor of South Carolina Attorney General (U.K.), Member of Parliament, Principal British delegate to the United Nations, President of the British Board of Trade
Best Known For Segregationism; Fiery opposition to civil rights act, 1948 Prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, 1945
Political Accomplishments Sped the development of a two-party system in the South; Pushed GOP to the right; Reshaped the Supreme Court after the retirement of Chief Justice Earl Warren; Accidentally caused Trent Lott to step down as Senate Majority leader. Conducted treason trials against infamous British spies and turncoats, including Klaus Fuchs and Alan Nunn May (convicted of giving atomic secrets to the Soviet Union); Successfully handled the Crown's case against William Joyce ("Lord Haw-Haw"), who made propaganda broadcasts for the Germans during WWII; Chief Nuremburg War Crime Prosecutor.
Verbosity Filibustered a civil rights bill for 24 hours and 18 minutes, stopping only when the Senate physician threatened to drag him from the floor. It was the longest filibuster in Senate history Delivered an eight-hour opening statement over the course of two days outlining the case before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
Trivia The only U.S. senator ever elected as a write-in candidate Developed a special hatred for Lord Haw-Haw. "That fellow gave me the utter creeps."
Quote "I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres into our swimming pools into our homes and into our churches." 1948 "There comes a point when a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his own conscience."
Surprising Political Secret Kept secret for decades his illegitimate daughter, Essie Mae, born in 1925. Her mother was a black servant employed by Strom's father. According to "Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond," Strom put her through college. He remained opposed to capital punishment, despite winning the execution of 12 Nazis. Late in life he noted, to his dismay, that the Nuremberg trials "did not deter the odious crimes of Idi Amin, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge."

Sources: NYT, ABC News, CNN

by Barry L. Ritholtz
Concept courtesy of Jon Dellheim

Posted at 06:48 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Broadband Price Increases? (Not so fast . . . )

Came home to quite the surprise today. The Misses opens the mail, and -- Horror! -- Optonline, our broadband provider, has decided to crank up our monthly access fee to $49.95/mo.

Also arriving the same day, is an offer from Verizon DSL, for (get this) $29.95 (for the first 3 months, than it kicks up to $34.95). Still, $35 is a lot less than $50 clams, so we call Optonline (a division of Cablevision) to cancel.

They offer us the old price ($39.95/mo) til December 31, 2003. "Sure, O.K." we say, "No Strings attached? Um, thanks."

That makes me wonder how elastic internet/broadband pricing is. We've been wasting $15/mo with AOL's "Bring Your Own Service. I've had AOL since 1991, and 'though I hardly ever use it, I'm reluctant to give it up (dunno why).

I call AOL, tell them $15 is too much. Guess what? They instantlydrop the price to $9.95, good until December 31, 2003.

Don't take my word for it, make the calls yourself:

AOL : (800) 827-3338
Cablevision Optonline: (516) 364-8400
Verizon (516) 890-1550; (877) 525-2375

Some additional thoughts:

We had Verizon DSL about 2 years ago, and it was a disaster. The connection was intermittent, customer service was awful, and set up was arduous. How bad? There were so many complaints, that a large number of customers actually filed lawsuits, including some class actions Of course, the usual flame sites (See: for a typical example) popped up

I've heard Verizon's customer service has gotten considerably better; Note that this is based upon a rather small, scientifically insignificant anecdotal sampling.

On the flip side, Optonline customer service has been stellar; They are almost always up (rare lack of access), and where I live, we've hardly had any major congestions or slow downs. This is the exact opposite experience I had with Time Warner Cable (in NYC), as well as Cablevision (on Long Island) cable service. The connection quality was awful, mediocre picture quality, topped with lousy customer service. It's why we happily switched to Dish, which combined with TiVo, creates an awful tempting siren call to couch potatodom.

In all fairness, since that time (3 years ago), I've seen some improvements in picture qualitiy -- most notably in Cablevision's IO digital cable.

Posted at 04:46 PM in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)