Puff somewhere else

This is a cigarette store in Campbell, California.

image

What you can’t see in this picture is the small white sign to the right of the door that reads “No Smoking.”

Send in the Mounties

I just don’t understand — why does it seem that the U.S. is so bad at apprehending the bad guys?
In London, they’re arresting people left and right who were involved in the recent bombings — notwithstanding the horrible mistaken murder of an innocent bystander, which is scary evidence of the “at all costs” mentality of the soon-to-be-renamed War on Terror.
But here in the U.S., we seem to be content to have few tangible arrests of “evil-doers.” For example, where’s Osama bin Laden? For that matter, when are there going to be arrests in the anthrax attacks of 2001? When?

Sorry, he had to wash his hair

The media have reported that the president did not show at the Boy Scout Jamboree yesterday evening because of poor weather.
But I just read a report that makes me wonder if the White House wasn’t lying about that — after all, this White House is becoming known for bending the truth a bit.

“The House narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement this morning, delivering a hard-fought victory to President Bush while underscoring the nation’s deep divisions over trade. . . .

“Underscoring the importance that Bush attaches to the pact, he put his prestige on the line by making a rare appearance with Vice President Cheney at the weekly closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference. Bush spoke for an hour, lawmakers said…

… The president’s unusual appearance on Capitol Hill, followed up with private telephone calls to wavering members, underscored his personal stake in the fight. More effective in the end-game maneuvering was deal-cutting by Bush aides and Republican leaders. Highway projects were dangled before undecided lawmakers, as well as assignments on top-shelf committees.”

In other words, if he had lost this vote, it would have been a sign of his political death on the Hill… so he ditched the Boy Scouts, who had just lost members of the Alaska delegation in a freak accident, to twist arms on Capitol Hill where even his 30-vote majority couldn’t get the job done.

Plugged in to Congress

I feel like I should at least acknowledge the ridiculous energy bill just passed by the House — you know, the one that gives $14.5 billion in tax breaks to energy companies that are already making record profits and paying little tax, but doesn’t even touch the issue of gas-guzzling vehicles.
This bill doesn’t do anything to curb our demand for oil, foreign or domestic, nor does it do anything to conserve energy. It does continue the “government of the people, for the corporations” trend that has been going on for some time now.
But hey, we’ll get an extended daylight savings time out of it.
Every news story I’ve heard or read today about this silliness is pointing out the lack of any real energy-saving legislation in this bill. Now, this could just be that “liberal media” they keep warning us about… or it could be that people are starting to get sick and tired of our government being the lapdogs of corporations instead of the people.
I mean, who else would pass a bill to “lower” prescription drug costs without asking the drug companies to lower their prices? Who would write energy legislation at a time of high fuel costs and record energy company profits and then give the energy companies tax breaks? Who would craft a bill ostensibly to find a way to lower our oil consumption, but not tell car companies to make their vehicles more fuel efficient?
I know I shouldn’t be so incredulous, this is exactly the sort of thing we all expected ever since Dick Cheney allowed the energy companies to write their own energy legislation and kept it secret.

The Photoshop Shop

This interesting visit to Adobe headquarters here in downtown San Jose has lots of pictures of the cool working environment there… but none of the neat art hanging in the lobby that I showed you last month.
Still, it looks like a neat place to work.

Fun while it lasted

Well, this is a pretty good setback for NASA — after all that work, the external fuel tank once again shed a great big piece of foam, very nearly as big as the one that doomed the Columbia.
So, the fleet — such as it is — is grounded again.
Next comes a long period of trying to fix the problem again… which is difficult, because it seems to be a fundamental flaw in the design of the entire system.
I wonder if some muckety-mucks are even now discussing the option of Atlantis bringing back the station astronauts, and just scrapping the shuttle and the ISS altogether?

And they got Al Capone for tax evasion

I could have entitled this entry “Maybe he was watching for the real killers.” O.J. is back in the news:

A U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of Florida has ordered O.J. Simpson to pay DIRECTV $25,000 in damages, plus attorneys’ fees and cost for stealing DIRECTV® programming.

Judge Joan A. Lenard awarded damages in the signal theft case after granting DIRECTV’s motion for summary judgment in a civil lawsuit filed by DIRECTV against Simpson following a raid on his Miami home and the seizure of two illegal devices, known as bootloaders, in December 2001. The devices were being used to intercept DIRECTV programming without the company’s authorization.

Simpson, who did not have a legitimate DIRECTV account, admitted that the two devices were installed at his residence and that they were specifically designed to steal DIRECTV programming.

Cheap bastard.

It gives “on demand” a whole new meaning

Perusing Comcast On Demand today, I was intrigued to come across, buried in the menus, a “Dating On Demand” channel. Of course, like most of Comcast’s On Demand offerings, it’s pretty much useless.
First off, it assumes that you’re straight.
Second, the age categories are: 18-20, 21-29, and 30 and above. It’s a pretty drastic logrithmic scale they’ve got there, isn’t it? I guess they figure that 30 year olds have more in common with 60 year olds than with 29 year olds.
I really wish I could post a movie of some of these ads, but I’m sure it would be some kind of copyright violation — or, at least, a violation of good taste. Here’s one of the more amusing ones, but you’d have to see his ad to believe it. And hear it. This guy really needs to have that deviated septum fixed. Frankly, my first thought was that this was a parody.
And these ads are not targeted to any specific area — that guy is in Philly, but I watched his ad in San Jose.

The view from up there

It was an addition to help ensure safety, but the addition of cameras to the Shuttle made today’s launch so much more interesting and enlightening — watching live pictures from the orbiter instead of just a white dot as seen from Earth was amazing; being there when the external tank separated and seeing the ghost of thrusters firing in space… it was a realization — even though I still think the shuttle program is pretty much pointless — that we still can leave the planet, albeit only a short distance.
From out there, Earth is beautiful. It’s too bad that it gets so much less peaceful the closer you get.

True Life Adventure

I swear to you, if this had been filmed it could have gone into one of those Home Videos shows.
Yesterday morning, while standing under the shower, there was a sudden hiss, then pain — the $20 plastic shower head I’d bought had broken, and was propelled off the pipe by the pressure of the water, right into my head.
This true life story is only here to make you laugh.

This is not the future we hoped for

Welcome to Iran:

hanging in Mashad In Iran, mullahs’ henchmen publicly hanged two young boys in Mashhad. One was 18 and the other was a juvenile. Before the hanging the boys were each flogged 228 times while the executioners wore masks. The victims were charged with “disrupting public order” among other things and had been imprisoned for the past 14 months, thus they were both underage at the time of the alleged offenses. Exactly 24 hours prior to the start of negotiations between the mullahs’ representative and the European Union in London, the execution occured. The boys conviction for allegedly raping a 13-year-old boy at knifepoint has been decried by Outrage! as a smokescreen to justify killing gay men.  

Under Iran Law, rape victims are charged with the same crime along with their attackers and the boy wasn’t charged, adding further evidence that the boys were executed for being gay. Attorney Ruhollah Rezazadeh said his clients didn’t understand that gay relations and drinking were forbidden. Here’s an Iranian Student News story as well.

[via Queer Day]

Home of the near future

I’ve been doing a bit of research for yet another attempt at renovating and updating g-world — I’m planning on regenerating it into a more camp, googie, late 50s motif — and I came across this look at the home of the future. It occurs to me that I’m well on my way to this rosy future:

  • Robotic Maid to Cook and Clean “by magic”
    Well, I’ve got a robotic vacuum, that’s a start.
  • 3-D Color TV Wall Panel
    What’s funniest about this one is the attention paid to the adjective color. Funnily enough, some statisticians claim that color television still hasn’t penetrated 100% of television-owning homes. Anyway, I have a color TV wall panel. Not necessarily in 3D, though. But then again, it’s high definition.
  • Microwave Stove with Menu Selector
    Check. Heck, I could even get a microwave that automatically cooks food based on a barcode on the package!
  • Electrical Heat Unit
    Had one of these for years, with the electric bill to prove it.
  • Phono-vision Receiver (TV Phone)
    Well, I’ve got one of those here on my laptop computer, which is an innovation that they completely missed. They must have thought that computers would remain room-sized and too expensive for individuals to buy.
  • Electronic House-control Panel
    While I don’t have the kind of panel they’re talking about — though many people do these days — I have a networking panel in my bedroom closet, connecting my house with the outside world. You’re using it now to read this.

It’s a brave new world, isn’t it? Welcome to my push-button miracle home!