May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

We did not really do anything to formally celebrate Memorial Day.

The kids played in the pool. I cooked some hotdogs on the grill for lunch. My wife went to the walk-in clinic to have a deeply embedded splinter removed from her foot. We went to my mother-in-law's for dinner. The kids played in the pool some more.

I did pause often though to remember. To remember the courage and the honor and the sacrifice of all of those who made a day like today possible. I tried to convey some sense of this to the kids, but at 6 and 11 I'm not sure they grasped the significance. They are too young to understand that the whole world is not just like America. They understand nothing but the idea of living in freedom. Sometimes, I envy them that.

The day will come when they grasp idea of oppression, of totalitarianism. On that day they will understand what their father was talking about.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 27, 2006

NY Times Does Irony

I hadn't planned on posting anything today. I planned on being too lazy. But then I saw this headline from the NY Times RSS Feed

East Timor's Capital Spirals Into Violence, Despite U.N. Peacekeepers
Note: if look at the actual page they dropped the irony to shorten the headline.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:00 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


May 25, 2006

It's up to the House Now

The House of Representatives is called "The People's House." A name it picked up before the 17th Amendment when Representatives were elected and Senators were appointed by the states.

Well the people of America have made themselves fairly clear that they want serious policy on border security and serious enforcement of immigration laws. The Senate has seen fit to ignore public sentiment and has passed their version of "Comprehensive Immigration Reform." AKA Amnesty 2006.

Now comes the Conference. Members of the Senate and House get together and try to negotiate a compromise between two strikingly different bills. Will the house hold the line on border security and tough enforcement? Or will they fold like cheep empty suits in the face of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:20 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


Recycle the Jefferson Warrant

Here's a suggestion for how to get further use out of the William Jefferson search warrant that has many in Congress crying foul and asserting that they are above the law.

Nail a copy on the door of Senator McCain's office. Make sure you add the following note:

This is how you eliminate corruption in government. Not by shredding the First Amendment, ASSHOLE.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:04 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


May 23, 2006

When In Doubt, Meme

Picked up from Zoe Brain

I am overworked, underpaid, over-stressed and enjoying it.
I want more time.
I wish there were fewer stupid people in my world.
I hate dealing with the irrational.
I love quiet time alone.
I miss yacht racing.
I fear that I am not doing enough.
I hear my son playing with dinosaurs.
I wonder what the next phase of life will bring.
I regret not staying in touch with an old friend.
I am not a religious person.
I dance when no one can see.
I sing in the car to embarrass my daughter.
I cry internally.
I am not always cynical and curmudgeonly.
I make with my hands really good meat loaf.
I write this blog and advertising copy.
I confuse left and right.
I need to finish a few of the projects on my list.
I should be sleeping more than I do.
I start most projects too close to their deadliine.
I finish things at the last moment too often.
I tag anyone else willing to redo all of the bold tags.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:30 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


They Never Learn

Like the pedophiles who are continually busted by having online chats with 40 year old cops they think are 14 year olds, the moonbats on the left never seem to learn from past mistakes.

Yet another phony anti-war Army Ranger has been exposed. Jesse MacBeth apparently has never heard of Micah Wright.

Jesse, meet Micah. Micah, Jesse. Why don't you guys get together and compare notes on how your ridiculous lies were exposed. Meet up at Starbucks, and be sure to invite Dan Rather.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:38 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 22, 2006

I'd Rather Be...

The dramatic and traumatic leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean race has come to an end with the finish earlier today of the boat ABN AMRO Two. Before it was over AMRO Two was to play a major part in the most difficult events of the leg.

The crew demonstrated remarkable seamanship when a member of their crew was washed overboard. In the dark, with high winds and heavy seas in the middle of the north Atlantic, they had the crew member on board in just under 40 minutes. An amazing accomplishment in its own right. Unfortunately Hans Horrevoets did not not survive the accident.

Two days later in increasingly bad weather with winds approaching 50 knots and expected to increase the yacht Movistar suffered significant keel damage and the crew was forced to abandon ship. The nearest boat to them was ABN AMRO Two. AMRO Two took the crew of Movistar on board and continued on with the race.

As they reached the coast of Great Britain, a boat arrived to bring the Movistar crew to shore. Shortly afterward a Royal Neatherlands Navy frigate that was training with the British Royal Navy met up with AMRO Two and took the body of Hans Horrevoets to transport him home.

When they reached the dock after finishing the ABN AMRO team did a superb job in keeping the media away from the crew. A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow and it is expected the team will announce if they will be continuing on in the race.

For their tragic loss they deserve our sympathy. For their outstanding seamanship they deserve all of our respect.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:36 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 21, 2006

"Shut Up And Sing"

With thanks to Laura Ingraham for the headline I can't let this story on The Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines go without comment. It seems Maines no longer stands by here apology for her earlier remarks disrespecting President Bush at a london concert.

"I don't feel that way anymore," she told Time magazine for its issue hitting newsstands Monday. "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."
That's absolutely fine Natalie just don't expect that anyone owes you any respect either.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:34 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Under-Reported News

Here's a story that doesn't seem to be getting really big play in the MSM. It seems that crude oil prices have fallen to a five week low putting them just under $69 a barrel.

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell close to a five-week low after Iran signaled it may allow greater access to United Nations atomic agency inspectors, easing concern a standoff over the nation's nuclear research will cut shipments from the world's fourth-largest producer.
``With the Iran worries reduced, oil can join the other commodities and fall on inflation and recession concerns,'' said Peter Beutel, president of energy consultant Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Connecticut. ``The nuclear standoff with Iran has inflated prices.''
Note the lack of a conspiracy lead by Exxon/Mobile. Amazingly enough geopolitical factors in the Middle East seem to play a major role in the price of oil.
``If we can settle beneath yesterday's low of $67.85 we will probably be done with $70 oil for a while, barring a hurricane,'' Beutel said.
No wait, you mean the damage of a natural disaster can also impact oil prices? Who'd have thought?

With all the saturation coverage, outrage and moral indignation that came when crude hit record high prices (not really when adjusted for inflation) you would think that the mainstream media would give some play to declining crude prices a few weeks later. I mean if for no other reason than declining world prices giving them reasons to continue to stifle domestic production. Yet this is good news. News that might relieve some of the downward pressure on the president's poll standing.

Having made high energy prices Bush's fault (they're not) wouldn't it be only fair to give him some of the credit when they come down?

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:04 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


McCain on Laundering Money Through SSA

John McCain, the Arizona senator who gives RINOs a bad name, Went on Fox News Sunday to chat with Chris Wallace. Among the topics they covered, allowing amnestied illegal aliens to collect on money paid into Social Security why working illegally.

WALLACE: This week, this past week, you were one of the leaders in a 50-49 vote — you were one of the 50 — that will allow illegal immigrants to collect Social Security benefits even if they got their job illegally by forging documents. Forty-four Republicans voted against this. You were one of only 11 Republicans who voted for it.
At a time when Social Security is running out of money, should we allow illegals to benefit from committing a felony?
MCCAIN: Well, they paid the taxes. Do you want to refund — at least shouldn't you then, if you don't want them to get benefits — they paid the taxes. They came out of their salaries, and so they contributed.
Should they at least not — should they be deprived of the taxes that they paid? I don't think that's fair.
WALLACE: But I don't have to tell you conservatives are saying they broke the law and they're going to benefit from that.
MCCAIN: Chris, many conservatives — that's the same argument that we made throughout this debate, that we are giving them amnesty. Look, the taxes were taken out of their paychecks. They were put into a fund that is a legitimate fund.
Of course, they were illegal because they were here illegally. But what we'd like to do over time, and I think we could do this over time, is establish some of these funds back in the country that they came from, so that there would be incentives for them to return home.
But if you just said I'm sorry, you came here illegally, even though you paid into the trust fund, we're just taking your money, I don't think that's really fair, either.
Forget the felony. Disregard the Fraud. Ignore the identity theft. We must above all be fair to those who show complete disregard for our laws. (ed - Like Senators?) We'll even launder their illegally acquired money through the Social Security system.

But what ever you do, don't call it amnesty.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:30 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


May 19, 2006

Crime Sometimes Pays

There was an amendment put forth on the Senate's illegal immigration that would have prevented "guest workers" from collecting Social Security benefits for payments made into the system while they were working illegally. The amendment was defeated, and guest workers can collect those benefits.

To get a job and pay into the Social Security system, you need to have a Social Security number. To get a valid SSN an immigrant is required to:

Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5); and
Show us documents proving:
Immigration status;
Work eligibility;
Age; and
Identity.
Take your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office
Anyone age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number card must appear for an interview at a Social Security office.

So unless you can prove you're a legal immigrant, you're not getting a SSN that way. Your only option at that point is to commit fraud and/or identity theft. Most likely you will be paying someone to provide you with fraudulent documents to use to get a SSN or you will just buy a number that was most likely stolen.

And what do the solons of the US Senate think should happen to those who commit fraud and identity theft? Why they should be paid their ill gotten gains with a gvernment check.

So according to the Senate you can break the law by coming into the country illegally; commit fraud and/or identity theft; illegally secure employment using fraudulent documents; and when you retire the government will send you a check. But whatever you do, don't call it amnesty.

And just as the icing on the cake, take a guess as to who lead the charge to allow illegal immigrants to claim the proceeds of their crimes. None other than John McCain.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:03 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 18, 2006

Decode This.

I have a couple of questions for all of you normally reasonable people who seemed to be worked up into such a froth over the DaVinci Code.

How many of you were telling people to calm down and relax when they were getting all in a lather over Harry Potter?

How many of you were critical of Muslim reaction to cartoons of their prophet published in a Danish Newspaper?

Take a good hard look at yourself. Either you were wrong then or you are wrong now. Do us all a favor and shut up until you figure it out.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


The Immigration Song and Dance

I didn't watch the President's speech on illegal immigration the other day. I didn't even bother to read any of the multitude of transcripts available online. It's not that I didn't have the opportunity. I didn't have any interest. It's not that I am not interested in the issue, quite to the contrary. I just didn't have any interest in hearing a speech I already knew the content of and already knew where the president and I would disagree.

But I have decided in the last couple of days that I am willing to put those disagreements aside and support the President's comprehensive plan to deal with illegal immigration. With certain conditions.

What I am most interested in defining at this point (since some sort of guest worker program seems all but inevitable) is what happens next.

Let's say we get the National Guard on the border and start building wall and fences and actually secure the border. Let's say we put Bush's guest worker plan into action. What do we do with those illegal aliens who don't voluntarily walk into an INS office, pay their fine and back taxed and fill out all the paperwork? What are we going to do with all of those who decide to just continue on as illegal aliens?

If the guest worker program does not come with a hard and fast sign-up-in-English deadline with strictly enforced employer fines and deportations then it is a complete policy joke.

It is amnesty.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:39 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Lost at Sea

Tragedy has struck the Volvo Ocean Race. At approximately 3:00 a.m GMT Hans Horrevoets was washed overboard from the boat ABN AMRO Two. The crew quickly executed man-overboard procedures and were able to recover Horrevoets but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

There are risks of varying levels involved in any sporting competition. Certainly the level of risk in racing a high-performance sail boat in the open ocean are quite high. That Horrevoets knew those risks does nothing to lessen the tragedy, and my condolences go out to his family, friends, and crew-mates.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:36 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


May 14, 2006

Lies of the Times

The headline reads:

Bush Aide Defends Eavesdropping on Phone Calls
The story is about the latest NSA leak regarding a data-mining operation on phone records from 3 major U.S. phone companies. Here is the lead:
WASHINGTON, May 14 — President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, insisted today that a newly disclosed government effort to compile data on millions of telephone calls in search of terrorist-linked calling patterns was a legal and "narrowly designed program" that did not involve listening to individual calls.
Here's a little bit of insight for the clowns writing headlines at the New York Times. If you are writing about a program that does not involve "listening to individual calls," you really can't call it "eavesdropping." According to dictionary.com, eavesdropping is:
To listen secretly to the private conversation of others.
There is no sound logical reason to call it eaves dropping if they aren't listening to calls, unless you want to create a false impression that the NSA is listening to everyone.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:50 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


The Internet is for...

I guess this song is right. The internet if for...

PORN!!!

It's a familiar pattern. Like the VCR and the DVD and the internet, the porn industry is leading the way to online movie sales.

Hollywood has been tiptoeing its way toward letting consumers buy a movie online, burn it onto a DVD and watch it on a living-room TV.
While the studios hesitate, the adult film industry is taking the leap.
Starting Monday, Vivid Entertainment says it will sell its adult films through the online movie service CinemaNow, allowing buyers to burn DVDs that will play on any screen, not just a computer.
The biggest hurdle facing the Hollywood movie industry, which makes more money on DVD sales than theatre tickets, is they are tied in to major retail outlets who would strongly object to studios selling direct to consumers. A challenge the porn industry apparently does not face. One spokesman for the porn industry said,
"We don't have to divvy up the pie."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 13, 2006

Karate Blogging

Actually, this post has nothing to do with Karate other than the fact that I am tapping this out on the Treo sitting on the floor outside my son's karate class.

Today is my daughter's birthday. She's 11 today. But this post is not really going to be about that either.

I don't write about my family here. Other than family and friends who might read this site, there isn't a reader who could give my kid's names. I do this out of respect for their privacy.

Their privacy is, of course, not perfect. The town library knows what books they have borrowed and how much they (I) have paid in late fees. The school system has volumes of information on them. The Social Security Administration has them on file. The IRS knows things about them. And if they gave damn. If it mattered to anyone else in the world besides her. The NSA could with a few key strokes know when and how often my daughter talked to her best friend on the phone.

I am concerned about her and her brother's and my wife's privacy enough that I have never mentioned them by name or offered more than superficial details about their lives. But it does not bother me that somewhere in what must be terabytes of data is a record of what numbers we dialed and what numbers dialed us.

Our information is part of a vast alphabet soup that the NSA is sifting through looking for specific indicators of potential terrorist communication. They will never look at my data. They will likely never know that my data exists in their system. The extent to which its presence there is a violation of my privacy is certainly less of a violation than I voluntarily accept in many other parts of life.

If anyone reading this is from the NSA, that last call from my home number to my cell was my wife. Bread, crackers, milk, orange juice and tampons.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 12, 2006

Try Breathing Into a Paper Bag

If you think the Democrats are hyperventilating over the recycled leak regarding NSA data mining of phone records, you should check out the Libertarians or whatever the faithful and true at Reason Magazine are calling themselves. They made it easy too. They put all or their NSA nonsense in one place.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:34 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 11, 2006

So Close and Yet So Far

The conference schedule was not going to allow me to see the start of the Volvo Ocean Race that took place off Battery Park in New York today. It was a fairly slow moving light air start which while perhaps not as exciting would have provided a good chance to check out the boats. I could have seen this. And this. And this. In fact If I had the time to get down to Battery Park, this could have been me.

The conference? The food was much better than the last one. Some of the presentations were more interesting. Information I didn't already know? None.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:03 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


May 10, 2006

The Cheerios Dilemna

Recently I wrote asking for suggestions for what to get with the iTunes Music Store credit I got off a box of Cheerios. Several people chimed in with great suggestions. Well I'm back in that same spot again. I had to buy a new box of Cheerios.

But I found, via Trey Givens, the perfect solution.

It's called Pandora and it's part of something called the Music Genome Project.

On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.
Over the past 5 years, we've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.
It has been quite an adventure, you could say a little crazy - but now that we've created this extraordinary collection of music analysis, we think we can help be your guide as you explore your favorite parts of the music universe.
The way the Pandora component works is you enter the name of an artist or song that you like, and it offers suggestions for other similar music you might also like. Since it's based on detailed analysis, it's a bit more sophisticated, and I have to say accurate, than something like Amazon's if you bought that you might like this.

This is sure to provide hours of fun and exposure to some great music I've never hear before.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


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