Monthly Archives: April 2006

Stephen Colbert is my new hero! 1

Last night was the annual White House Correspondent’s Association dinner. Stephen Colbert has more balls than anyone in American media today. Last night Colbert was the keynote speaker and he gave what was easily the most blistering rip-up of the Bush administration ever. As he stood about 4 feet from Bush he repeatedly showed that he was the truest American in the room. He looked over at Bush repeatedly throughout the address and never wavered in his attack. He gave the speech in the persona of his character on the Colbert Report. If you haven’t seen the show his character is basically a parody of Bill O’Reilly. Unfortunately the most of the rest of the room sat stone-faced throughout, demonstrating that most of them are either spineless weasels or true bush supporters. In either case they obviously cannot be trusted to tell us the truth. Only the likes of Colbert and Jon Stewart can be trusted to help lead America out of the wilderness. Editor and Publisher has a good write-up on the speech. One example was this brilliant line:

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “They are re-arranging the deck chairs–on the Hindenburg.”

Stephen Colbert
I love Stephen Colbert! We’ll miss you when they send you off for rendition.

update: Crooks and Liars has a video up of part of the speech


I went out to dump some scraps in the composter tonight and as I stepped I saw a bunny hopping across the yard. As I moved to the composter the rabbit just stopped and sat there looking at me. So after I dumped the compost I went back inside and told Max and he saw the rabbit outside his window. Then I grabbed the camera and when I got back outside the rabbit was still sitting in the same spot. So here it is. bunny in the yard

Pennies for the pool

Everyone in the Ypsilanti area knows about the financial problems of the city and how they had to cut funding for the recreation department a couple of years ago. Fortunately the wonderful people of the area have come through to support these community resources. This Sunday, April 30 the friends of the pool will be holding Pennies for the Pool at the Senior Center. If you live in the Ypsi area and you have some spare change go give them a hand. We will be going over and buying a season pass for the family. Rutherford is a great pool and is a great place to spend a sunny summer afternoon. Here is a copy of the e-mail I got with all the information

Sunday, April 30th from 12-3pm (at the Senior Center on Congress at Oakwood) will be your first chance to sign up for passes and swim lessons for this summer. Please check out the price structures below as some things have changed. If you can’t make it on the 30th the pre-season sale will be available on Ypsilanti Pride Day and Memorial Day weekend. Please remember that although we do open on Memorial Weekend regular hours will not start until June 10th when Ypsilanti schools are out for summer. More program information will be available on the 30th.

Check or cash only-no credit cards

Family Pass Pre-season (last year’s price ) $110.
After Memorial Day $125

Swim Lessons First lesson $50. next lessons $45 each

Individual pass $60

Adults $3.00 per session
Child (1-5pm) $2.00
Child (6-8) $1.50

We will be offering a gift card this year. The card can have up to 5
punches on it at a reduced rate. Children’s gift card-$8 and Adult gift
card $12. Perfect for out of town guests.

Pennies for the Pool, too, on April 30: Please feel free to bring your pennies(or other coins/bills) that you might have in your couch cushions or on top of the dresser. We even take pop cans as donations.

When cleaning out your garage-if you have any stackable, plastic lawn
chairs that you wish to get rid off-we’ll take those, too.

If you have any questions please contact Cathy Thorburn at 485-xxxx (e-mail me and I can give you the number if you need it) or
catabates AT hotmail DOT com

Hope to see you all the pool this summer!

Living With War

Neil Young has a new album coming out next week titled Living with War. This a classic anti-war protest album. One song in particular is drawing a lot of attention, “Let’s Impeach the President”. The Faux News guys are all over this one proclaiming how can anyone dare to criticize King George? Here are the lyrics

Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean

Thank God

Living with War
I’ll definitely be getting this one when it comes out. Another really good anti-war album to check out if you haven’t already heard it is Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts… Now” which he released in 2004. I’ve long been a fan of both Steve and Neil. It would interesting to hear a collaboration between the two of them. Go give both of these records a listen and then call you congressional representatives and urge them to move for the impeachment of this criminal in the white house.

Floss weekly and a really cool Firefox feature.

I was just listening to a new podcast called Floss Weekly with a guy named Chris DiBona (who works for google) and long-time radio guy Leo Laporte (who does a whole slew of podcasts including This Week in Tech). Floss stands for free, libre and open source software and the show focuses on topics related to this. I just listened to episode 2 where Leo and Chris interviewed Ben Goodger. Ben Goodger is the chief engineer for Firefox, the wonderful open source browser that everyone should be using. If you are not using Firefox, why not? Get Firefox!
The show is definitely geared toward the more geek minded. If you don’t already know what slashdot is you probably won’t be that interested in this show. However, at the end of the interview Leo asked Ben what his favorite unknown feature of Firefox was. If you are on any web page with a search box, such as the one in the side bar of this blog, you can right -click on the box and on the context menu you will find an item labeled “Add a keyword for this search”. If you select this a dialog will pop-up where you can enter a label and keyword and save it. For example I set a keyword for the search box on this page and called it “sam”. Now if you go to the address bar and type the keyword and search term it will automatically search for that term on the page linked to the keyword. For example if I type “sam drm” it now automatically searches my blog for posts with the term drm. You can do this for any searchable site, like google, yahoo or imdb. If you set “imdb” as a keyword for, and then enter “imdb donald sutherland” in the address bar, it will search imdb for Donald Sutherland. Very cool feature.

SSH Setup guide

Over the past six months I’ve been messing around with setting up a secure connection to my home network. If you’ve ever used a public wireless connection, unless you are connecting to a vpn at work or elsewhere , your computer is wide open to anyone else on the same hot-spot. Anything you send such as passwords or user-names can be sniffed by a malicious character. However if you have a home broadband connection, you can setup a secure server that you can access from anywhere via an SSH tunnel. SSH stands for secure shell, and is a communication protocol. An SSH tunnel will provide you with a very strongly encrypted communication stream, that no one monitoring you is going to be able to crack. It took me a while to put together all the correct pieces to do what I want, but I have it working really well now. I have put together a draft of a setup guide that compiles information from a variety of different sources I have found. There are quite a few steps, but it is actually not very difficult if your just follow the guide and do each step. I will be refining this guide over the coming weeks. If you decide to try this give me some feedback on the guide. If you find any errors or have problems let me know. You can find the guide here. Except for the router, all the software elements I reference are free and open source and won’t cost you a dime.

AA News doesn’t like criticism

I recently wrote a post in response to an article Mike Ramsey wrote in the business section of the April 9, 2006 Ann Arbor News about a looming labor shortage. I took issue with the tone and content of Mr. Ramsey’s article. From all appearances Mr. Ramsey only spoke to some corporate managers and not to any skilled employees actually trying to find work in Michigan right now. I posted a full copy of my letter in that previous post. Yesterday the Ann Arbor News decided to publish the letter I wrote. However, they edited out all references to the writer or the original article. This change caused a fundamental change to the meaning of my letter, which was meant to not only challenge the assertions of the article, but also criticize the writer. Letters to the editor are supposed to reflect the opinions of the readers of a publication. The editors of a publication have their own space for expressing their opinions on that page. The letters are supposed to provide another view. If the editors are going to change the meaning or intent of letters, they shouldn’t even bother to take letters. This disregard for the readership and the common good is one of the main reasons people are abandoning newspapers.

The only reason I even still get the AA News is because I want some local news. As I have seen more and more of the content of the paper being taken straight off the wires and the pages of the NY Times and Washington Post verbatim, I see less and less reason to subscribe. Worse yet is that this re-purposed content is often published locally days or weeks after appearing elsewhere. Often it is also incoherently edited, to fit into the available page space in the local paper. Since the net is my primary news source, I have usually seen most of this content on the day it was initially published. Newsvine, digg, and the other sources in my blogroll provide me much more timely and complete content and allow me to contribute my feedback immediately rather than 2 weeks after the original publication. The immediacy of the net also allows for almost real-time conversation, although this also allows for abuse, it is a small price to pay for the benefit of true mass communication.

Bill Maher & Bob Garfield

Bob Garfield is the co-host of the NPR program On the Media where they discuss issues related to media around the world. This week’s show included segments on the FBI trying to get Jack Anderson’s personal papers before they are publicized, and the press coverage of the Chernobyl disaster 20 years ago. The most interesting segment was Bob Garfield interviewing the authors of two children’s books about politics, “Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!,” and “Why Mommy is a Democrat.” One thing you can always count on with Bob is that he never holds back during an interview. He can be very snarky and sarcastic but he never lets anyone pull any bullshit on him. He got on both authors about writing books that seemed to be less about giving kids a civics lesson than about indoctrinating them in the political philosophy of the respective books. He followed up the author interviews by talking to psychology professor Dr. Andrew Getzfeld about whether young children at whom these books are targeted are even capable of understanding abstract concepts like political ideology. Bob Garfield is a very thoughtful interviewer asks tough questions, listens and follows up on the responses. In many respects Bob Garfield is like the Jon Stewart of NPR.

Bill Maher on the other hand is a light-weight, spineless dilettante. He became widely known some years back when his original Politically Incorrect show was on Comedy Central. The show was eventually picked up by ABC and moved to the time slot following Nightline. The show did OK but ultimately canceled some time after he made an unpopular comment after 9/11. He said that what the terrorists did took more courage than pilots dropping smart bombs from high altitudes. As soon as people complained about and sponsors threatened to pull out, he backed down. Instead of standing up for what he said, he bailed. His ratings had been sinking for a long time anyway, and eventually the show was canceled. Eventually HBO signed him to do a new show Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher often has some really good guests on the show. Unfortunately, the weak link in the show is Maher himself. Frankly he is just not funny the majority of the time. When a comic laughs at his own jokes more often the audience does, that is a really bad sign. But the thing that irritates me more than anything about Bill Maher is that in the past year he has begun following up every joke about a member of the Bush administration with “but I kid the president!”. Well I say the this to Bill Maher. Fuck that shit. You’re a comedian of course you kid. But this is also a political show with opinions. This is America! No one should be apologizing for their opinion. If you are afraid of criticism for a joke, don’t tell the damn joke! Get out of the business if you are going to be like that.

Everyone in this country has a right to freely express their opinions no matter how unpopular that opinion might be. Bill Maher sets an extremely bad precedent by apologizing for his jokes. No one needs to apologize for their opinions especially when it concerns politicians that purport to lead this country. No one in America is above criticism, especially in “a time of war.” Leaders of this country should be doing what is best for America, and if they are not than it is the responsibility of the citizenry to criticize and change the government as necessary. This is at least theoretically still a democracy, not a monarchy. If the people are afraid of their government, then that government must go. Bill Maher is an unfunny lame excuse for a comedian.

A Letter from Henry Rollins

In case you haven’t heard Henry Rollins has a show on the Independent Film Channel. Henry RollinsI like Henry even though I don’t always agree with him. His like of Rob Zombie, both for his music and films is a complete mystery to me but is more than made up for by his dislike of the chimp in chief. But that’s beside the point. The show is a mix of Rollins’ rants, interviews, and a musical guest. I just saw last weeks episode (#3) and it is classic Rollins. The opening segment is called Teeing Off and Rollins goes off on all the ads for loan companies and how Americans keep living beyond their means. After an interview with director Werner Herzog came a segment titled “A Letter from Henry”. In this segment he narrates a letter to famed skinny, blond, psycho, fascist, bitch Anne Coulter. He really rips in to her, and the the phrase “JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!” came up a couple of times. Coulter really is a crazy, vile excuse for a human being and she long ago slipped off the deep end. It was nice to see someone publicly upbraid her. Rollins also had a great sarcastic piece on parenting along with a musical segment from Frank Black. If you don’t get IFC or missed the show I checked and it is available via bit-torrent. Just look for episode 3 of the Henry Rollins show. If you need help finding it just send me an e-mail. I highly recommend seeing this if you feel the same as I do about the psycho-fascist.