stAllio!'s way
Friday, July 01, 2005 
swift boats for iran
so iran recently had elections. and just like the united states, they elected a far-right religious fundamentalist who considers his holy text more "true" and important than things like science. if you don't like islamist government, give them elections so they can choose their new islamist leaders.

but now, six americans who were hostages in the 1979 embassy crisis have now come out to state that new iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of their captors.

a president of a powerful nation is accused of being a kidnapper! that's big news. of course, a lot more people have come out to say that there's no way in hell it was him. the white house has even said that they wouldn't be surprised if it were indeed him, though they claim to be still investigating.

can it possibly be true? i was only 3 years old at the time, so i wouldn't know. let's explore some options.

  1. he did it, but those running his campaign etc didn't know
  2. he did it and they knew damn well
  3. it's all false and is a smear campaign so bushco can further demonize iran, and possibly invade
  4. it's not false but it's not a smear campaign either; the former captors are just confused... maybe all persians look alike to them or their memories are just bad (it has been well established that one person's false memories can influence others into thinking they remember something that never happened)

i don't know about you, but none of those options sound very good to me. and by that i mean that they're all believable, but none would make me very happy.

update: cnn is reporting that there was already a hostage-taker high up in iranian govt:

The current Iranian vice president and head of the Environment Department, Massoumeh Ebtekar, was the chief interpreter and spokeswoman for the radical students who took over the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Dubbed "Sister Mary" by the American press because her heavy head scarf resembled a nun's habit, Ebtekar gave almost nightly interviews during the standoff, denouncing the hostages as spies and accusing the United States of committing crimes.

o'connor retires
justice sandra day o'connor has announced her retirement. people figured rehnquist would resign first; after all, he has the cancer. but he still could.

now bush gets at least one supreme court nomination. considering the kinds of people he likes to nominate (john bolton, anyone?), that means trouble. 

fred's fruity CPBbles
remember fred mann, the indiana mann who was hired by CPB honcho tomlinson to monitor "liberal bias" on public broadcasting? the one who the media has been trying to track down for weeks now, with little to no success? where is this guy hiding? well, his data has been released:

Mann's work was released Thursday by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who had requested a copy from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It details the views of guests on four public radio and TV programs -- "Now With Bill Moyers" and "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" on PBS, and "The Diane Rehm Show" and "The Tavis Smiley Show" on NPR -- that aired between October 2003 and June last year.

The report labels guests on these programs "liberal," "conservative" or "neutral" or categorizes them by such descriptions as "pro-Bush," "anti-Bush," "support administration" and "oppose administration."

It found "Now" to be rife with liberal views; of 136 segments reviewed, it said 92 "clearly opposed" administration policy, while the balance were "neutral" or "not about policy."

It also found that when "conservatives/Republicans" were guests, they "mostly opposed" the administration. Tomlinson has often cited the Moyers show in his public critiques.

But Mann never explains his labeling criteria or indicates in any detail which specific comment or comments earned a guest a particular characterization.

Dorgan pointed out that "red-blooded" conservatives such as Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and former congressman Bob Barr, R-Ga., were classified as "liberal" and "anti-administration" apparently for briefly expressing views that differed from administration policy. Dorgan called the report "kind of a nutty project" and an "amateurish attempt to prove a liberal bias," noting Mann had apparently faxed his findings to Tomlinson from Mary Ann's Hallmark, a card store in Indianapolis.

mary ann's hallmark store is at 15 e. market, in the heart of downtown. i can't tell if that's inside the city market or across the street, but it doesn't matter.

previously, we'd only known about the investigation into bill moyers. the news about investigating the other shows is new. and diane rehm is pissed:

"Is it being done to somehow force public broadcasting into some kind of retreat?" asked Ms. Rehm, who has been host of "The Diane Rehm Show," a news and interview program, on public radio for 25 years. "Is it done to frighten people to somehow alert them to the fact that they are being watched?"

Ms. Rehm may have had reason to feel aggrieved. When she interviewed Mr. Tomlinson on her program last month - nearly a year after Mr. Mann finished his largely critical, but then still secret, review of her show - Mr. Tomlinson called himself "a great admirer" of hers.

"Frankly," Ms. Rehm said Thursday, "I feel used."

he admired her so much that he hired someone to spy on her! that's almost like stalking.

more from the la times:
A summary of Moyer's programs from Oct. 17, 2003, to June 25, 2004, for example, concluded that 92 of 136 segments "clearly opposed administration/government policies." The consultant also took note of conservatives who did not hew to the administration line.

In one report, he labeled former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) as opposed to the administration for his criticism that the Patriot Act violated civil liberties. Radio host and former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock was listed as "anti-Bush" for saying the military was underpaid. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was tagged "liberal" for an interview with Smiley in which he criticized White House policy in Iraq.

Hagel spokesman Mike Buttry called the report "silliness," adding that the senator's record "speaks for itself."

Half a dozen reporters drew scrutiny as well. Associated Press President Tom Curley was listed in a chart as "liberal/Democrat" and under "oppose administration" for discussing whether there was a need for more government openness on Moyer's program.

Other reporters similarly classified were former NPR anchor Bob Edwards, New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston and Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Robin Wright.

tucker carlson--the boy in the bow-tie who was a star on crossfire until jon stewart eviscerated the show (saying "stop, you're hurting america") and it was subsequently canceled--is not concerned about being investigated. but even carlson had some criticism:

Carlson, a conservative pundit, said he did not object to the monitoring of his PBS show but took issue with the methodology.

"I don't think bean-counting guests is a particularly accurate way to determine the political bias of a show," said Carlson, who now hosts a program on MSNBC. "I had mostly liberals on because I disagreed with them and I wanted an interesting discussion."

and remember last week, when the CPB board picked tomlinson's lackey as the new president? some are suspicious of that, and are launching their own investigation:

he Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio, will begin an investigation into the selection of Patricia Harrison as its president, the agency's inspector general said today.

The probe, sought by Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, should be done by mid-August and will be released to the public, Inspector General Kenneth Konz said in an interview.

``It's just one of several matters that Congress has raised related to CPB operations, and we intend to give them the full facts of the situation,'' said Konz, who reports to both Congress and the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Dorgan said in a June 29 letter that some board members of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting expressed concern to him ``that the process was unnecessarily rushed'' and not as ``open and transparent'' as previous executive searches.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 
i noticed a few days ago that my comment footer wasn't laying out properly. it was designed to track in to the last line of text, so that my post ends, there's a symbol, and then comment links. but this wasn't working; it was inserting an extra line break in there where there hadn't been one before.

tonight i finally got around to looking at the code to see what was wrong. blogger was inserting <div style="clear:both;"></div> at the end of each post, right before the haloscan comment code. there was no mention of it in the official blogger help, but i knew i couldn't be the only one experiencing this problem, out of however many hundreds of thousands of blogger users.

google quickly turned up this bloggerforum thread, which led to a suggested css fix on this thread. the fix used css to disable the "clear:both" part of those tags... but that wouldn't help for my template, because the problem there was that the <div> itself was a block element, and the fact that it was there at all was breaking the layout. fortunately, it turns out blogger now has a fix, and an explanation (emphasis mine):

In order to provide the layout options in our newly released Blogger Images we had to wrap all posts in a <div clear:both> tag. For some users this resulted in template formatting issues (even without uploading images). So today we introduced a new setting to suppress that markup.

Please note that suppressing the markup will result in layout problems when using left or right alignment for images. You should only change this setting if you are currently having trouble with normal posts.

emphasis mine. the new setting stops blogger from inserting those divs, fixing the problem with my layout. so that's that. however...

you'll notice that bobby vomit's blawg never experienced this problem. that's because that he hasn't posted in a couple weeks. if he ever posts again and republishes the blawg, the same thing will happen (unless we turn on that setting).

i don't know if i'll ever use the new layouts for blogger images. but maybe i will want to sometime. or maybe bobby vomit will, as he does post a lot of images. if we do, the current template/setting will fuck it up. maybe i should redesign the comment footers?

also, haloscan comments aren't totally reliable. sometimes haloscan goes down and they temporarily disappear. sometimes the number of comments doesn't update right away. and virago notes that she lost an entire comment somewhere in the ether. there's a trick here to switch over to blogger's built-in commenting system without losing your old non-blogger comments. that's kind of tempting. and blogger even has a new feature for pop-up comments like haloscan's.

in order to set that up i'd need to enable post pages. at first i was concerned that this would mess up any existing links to old blog entries, as post page archiving totally changes the way posts are archived and saved. but then i realized that as long as i don't delete those old files, the links should still work.

so... yeah. in the time i spent writing this post about changing to blogger comments, i could have actually changed to blogger comments. but if i do decide to do it, maybe i will soon. if you have an opinion, feel free to try leaving a haloscan comment. it works most of the time. 

30 days
god damn i love this show... last week's episode wasn't quite as good as this week's or the first one, but they've all been very good. in this week's episode, a die-hard christian man from WV goes to live with a muslim family for 30 days, and must participate in all their customs. he has a real crisis of faith, fearing that by participating in their prayer rituals he is going to make jesus mad or something. of course, there's a lot more going on. and next week, a hardcore right-winger will go live with gay men in san francisco's "the castro" district!

i ♥ morgan spurlock.

last night i also watched the series premiere of stella, starring three guys from the state. i really enjoyed it.

and while i'm posting about tv, the new gay channel from viacom called logo premieres tonight. i have directv, so i'll be able to watch it. though unfortunately there is not much programming info on the website, so it's hard to tell what their schedule will look like (the directv page has a slow, hard-to-navigate schedule)... i'll just look it up on tivo when i'm at home. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 
headline mania
tdw has a game called "headline mania":

Here’s what you do: Go to the Star website and read the headlines out loud. Make a sarcastic comment about a headline. Or just giggle about the vagueness of something written by a copy editor at midnight.

let's try it out, as there are some interesting stories with really bad headlines up today.

Executives agree to prison in price-fixing

i'm envisioning something akin to the phantom zone in superman 2, that two-dimensional square where krypton imprisoned the very worst of their prisoners, like general zod... or maybe like han solo being frozen in carbonite, only in this case the executives would be somehow frozen in "prices".

but actually, it's a story about no-good businessmen from greensfield indiana who agreed not just to go to prison (a normal prison, i guess), but to pay "the largest [fine] ever in a domestic antitrust investigation."

Irving executives Daniel C. Butler, John Huggins, Fred R. "Pete" Irving, and Price Irving were charged with conspiring with competitors to set the price of ready-mixed concrete sold in the Indianapolis metropolitan area from approximately July 2000 until May 2004.

Pete Irving has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and the other three executives have agreed to pay $100,000 fines. All four agreed to serve five months in prison, followed by five months of home detention. The pleas of the executives are subject to court approval, officials said.

Showers ease strain on utility

after a long, hard day at work in the muggy midwestern heat, sometimes the thing you want most is a nice hot shower. this is true not just for humans, but for utilities also.

or it could mean that showers increase utility, therefore also increasing productivity & worker efficiency. help stop outsourcing: shower regularly

or maybe it means that if your "utility" (wink wink, nudge nudge) is experiencing a "strain" (for example, becoming engorged with an oxygenated fluid), then a cold shower will ease that strain right up.

Farmland women strip for courthouse

i always felt a little dirty when walking by the courthouse, like it was undressing me with its eyes or something. now i know what a lecherous old perv that courthouse really is. these aren't young women stripping, either: the courthouse would probably call them GILFs. (also, i can't be the only one who's amused that there is actually a town in indiana called "farmland"... in today's star we have felonious businessmen and a small town called "farmland" full of nude grannies. really making the state look good.) 

stock up on sudafed
doug directs our attention to this indy star article about new laws going into effect in indiana this friday.

speed limits: indiana races into the 20th century by increasing speed limits... in some places:

Lawmakers raised speed limits on rural interstates and four-lane divided highways during the past session, but it will take the Indiana Department of Transportation months to evaluate many of the state's eligible roads to determine whether they're safe for higher speeds.

Rural interstates that currently have a 65 mph posted speed limit, however, will go up to 70 mph beginning Tuesday. State transportation officials are waiting until after the busy Fourth of July holiday to start putting up new signs.

abortion disclosure: abortion providers are now required to tell pregnant women that they have the option to view an ultrasound. hello... are there any women out there who didn't realize that pregnant women sometimes get ultrasounds?

pseudophedrine: if you're an allergy sufferer, or you've ever looked at the contents of a box of cold/allergy medicine, you know that pseudophedrine is in something like half of the products on the market. i don't have any statistics on that, but seriously, that shit is in everything... though the majority of products also have something else: an analgesic (usually acetaminphen), an antihistamine, or both.

but ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can also be used to make crystal meth. so in the interest of combatting meth, indiana pharmacies will now be forced to keep all these cold/allergy products behind the counter.

Over-the-counter cold medicines, such as Sudafed, contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, ingredients used to make meth. Starting Friday, those cold medicines will be placed behind a counter.

Stores with pharmacies also could choose to place those medicines on shelves, as long as the pharmacy is open and the medicines are within sight of pharmacy staff and under 24-hour video surveillance.

Customers must be at least 18 years old to buy the medicines, show ID and sign a logbook.

Tip: Even before the law passed, some retailers had moved those medicines behind the counter. So if you look for cold medicine before Friday and can't find it, ask. There's no reason to be embarrassed.

from this i'm inferring that all products containing (pseudo)ephedrine will be covered by the new rules. but are meth manufacturers really going to use dimetapp 12-hour extra-strength cold & flu, with 3-4 extra ingredients? no, they will want plain (pseudo)ephedrine; no self-respecting chemist is going to use known-impure ingredients when better, cheaper ingredients are only an arm's length away.

anyway, if you do go out to stock up on sudafed before friday, don't buy more than a couple boxes in any one place. if you show up at the register with 50 boxes of wal-phed (walgreens generic pseudoephedrine), they will suspect that you're a meth dealer. and if you really need that much, you probably are. 

them's fightin' words
military recruitment is way down. rumsfeld recently admitted that the "last throes" of the iraqi insurrection could last as long as 12 years. and while pres. bush said in his fort braggadocio speech last night that the generals tell him we have a sufficient number of troops on the ground now, he also said that if the generals tell him they need more, he'll send more.

it seems self-evident that if we're going to be there up to 12 years, we're going to need to send more troops sooner or later. and if we're having recruiting troubles, there won't be enough new troops to send. nobody will admit to wanting to restart the draft. so something needs to be done to drastically improve military recruitment.

what the military needs is for thousands of 18-to-20something-year-olds who are in favor of the war to enlist. bush even said so in his speech last night:

I thank those of you who have re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you. And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform. When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.

so the question is where the military could find a few ten-thousand strong youngin's who support the war, considering that war support has totally tanked recently? i can't think of a better place to start than the college republicans (operation yellow elephant and others have already been looking into this).

oddly, when you ask college republicans about enlisting, not only do they seem unwilling to join up and fight in the war they love so much, some of them even get angry!

I chatted for a while with Collin Kelley, a senior at Washington State with a vague resemblance to the studly actor Orlando Bloom. Kelley told me he's "sick and tired of people saying our troops are dying in vain" and added, "This isn't an invasion of Iraq, it's a liberation--as David Horowitz said." When I asked him why he was staying on campus rather than fighting the good fight, he rubbed his shoulder and described a nagging football injury from high school. Plus, his parents didn't want him to go. "They're old hippies," Kelley said.

Munching on a chicken quesadilla at a table nearby was Edward Hauser, a senior at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas--a liberal school in a liberal town in the ultimate red state of Texas. "Austin is ninety square miles insulated from reality," Hauser said. When I broached the issue of Iraq, he replied, "I support our country. I support our troops." So why isn't he there?

"I know that I'm going to be better staying here and working to convince people why we're there [in Iraq]," Hauser explained, pausing in thought. "I'm a fighter, but with words."

At a table by the buffet was Justin Palmer, vice chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, America's largest chapter of College Republicans. In 1984 the group gained prominence in conservative circles when its chairman, Ralph Reed, formed a political action committee credited with helping to re-elect Senator Jesse Helms. Palmer's future as a right-wing operative looked bright; he batted away my question about his decision to avoid fighting the war he supported with the closest thing I heard to a talking point all afternoon. "The country is like a body," Palmer explained, "and each part of the body has a different function. Certain people do certain things better than others." He said his "function" was planning a "Support Our Troops" day on campus this year in which students honored military recruiters from all four branches of the service.

Standing by Palmer's side and sipping a glass of rose wine, University of Georgia Republican member Kiera Ranke said she played her part as well. She and her sorority sisters sent care packages to troops in Iraq along with letters and pictures of themselves. "They wrote back and told us we boosted their morale," she said.

By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. "The people opposed to the war aren't putting their asses on the line," Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn't he putting his ass on the line? "I'm not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country," he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, "and I wasn't going to pass that up."

And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. "We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."

way to get shit done, boys. you really tought osama a lesson with your brilliant display of football stadium-style nationalism.

conventioneer at campus progress infiltrated a recent college repub conference (wherein they elected their new leader) and has loads of on-the-spot reporting. 

Monday, June 27, 2005 
big new bent gallery
i've been working on this for a few weeks now, and i'm ready to launch it to the public:

the new stAllio! image-bending gallery:

this is the new home for my databent image work, and i kick it off with a massive new RRX gallery. this new gallery includes a bunch of new bent JPEG files (about 23 actual bent jpeg files and at least two screencaps of each), so if you enjoyed last month's bollybend experiment, you will enjoy this up to 23x more. beyond that, there are more than 100 images created by bending PSD files. so when i say it's massive, you know i mean it.

also, the classic RR8 gallery has been expanded as well as galleryized so you can easily browse through it by looking through thumbnails.

i even hope to have another new gallery up there in the next couple months, so stay tuned. 

grokster loses
scotusblog is reporting that grokster has lost its supreme court case:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that developers of software violate federal copyright law when they provide computer users with the means to share music and movie files downloaded from the internet.

unanimously? something is seriously wrong here. courts have ruled before... repeatedly... that manufacturers of products that have legal uses cannot be held liable is users decide to use their products illegally. this is how weapons manufacturers and the like get away with making products that are expressly designed to destroy living creatures.

so smith & wesson etc can pump out millions of guns and no matter how many people get murdered, they won't get in trouble. but if a software company creates a product that could potentially help people infringe on "intellectual property"... help! save us from the evil pirates, oh mighty supreme court!

according to the court, intellectual property is more important than physical safety.

here's the cnn article; not much useful info there now but hopefully it'll fill out as details come in.

update: yahoo news (really AP) has more:

"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the court.

At issue was whether the file-sharing services should be held liable even if they have no direct control over what millions of online users are doing with the software they provide for free. As much as 90 percent of songs and movies copied on the file-sharing networks are downloaded illegally, according to music industry filings.

The entertainment industry said it needed protection against the billions of dollars in revenue they lose to illegal swapping. Consumer groups worried that expanded liability will stifle the technology revolution of the last two decades that brought video cassette recorders, MP3 players and Apple's iPod.

Companies will have to pay music and movie artists for up to billions in losses if they are found to have promoted illegal downloading.

Two lower courts previously sided with Grokster without holding a trial. They each based their decisions on the 1984 Supreme Court ruling that Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news). could not be sued over consumers who used its VCRs to make illegal copies of movies.

The lower courts reasoned that, like VCRs, the file-sharing software can be used for "substantial" legal purposes, such as giving away free songs, free software or government documents. They also said the file-sharing services were not legally responsible because they don't have central servers pointing users to copyright material.

But in Monday's ruling, Souter said lower courts could find the file-sharing services responsible by examining factors such as how companies marketed the product or whether they took easily available steps to reduce infringing uses.

"There is substantial evidence in MGM's favor on all elements of inducement," Souter wrote.

in the discussion on snuggles, it has been pointed out that a large part of the ruling was grokster's "intent". proving intent is extremely difficult (which is why you so rarely hear about successful libel hearings, etc).

so while the result is not what we would've hoped (which would've followed a completely obvious reading of the betamax case, holding that grokster cannot be held liable), the entertainment industry still has an enormous burden of proof to overcome. 

thou shalt not post the 10 commandments
it's the end of the session for scotus, and they're announcing all their big decisions this morning.

they just ruled 5-4 against posting the 10 commandments in courthouses:

Justices left legal wiggle room, saying that some displays -- like their own courtroom frieze -- would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.

update: scotusb log is reporting that the second decision is in regarding the 10 commandments posted at statehouses.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announced the second decision, finding no constitutional violation in the display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol building in Austin, Texas.

so... can't do it if it "promotes" a religion, but you can if it doesn't. we really didn't learn anything at all here, from what i can tell so far, though maybe once the text of the rulings is in, there will be something useful in there. 

Sunday, June 26, 2005 
highway to the free zone
my opening themes for the free zone are now available for download. you can find them at the mp3 of the week section as well as in their own folder at

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