Monday, May 31, 2010

Seen in Ennis, Tx

It's actully a really good restaurant.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.

From the Washington Post:

"How do you make something out of nothing?," asked one such operative who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the matter. "By acting guilty when you're innocent."r


Yeah, but we're not so sure yet that anyone is innocent here. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Their argument is that the White House could have pushed out an answer to the Sestak job controversy quickly but, in so doing, would have run the risk of not having all the facts of a relatively complex situation straight -- making it a real possibility that they would be bludgeoned by the press if there was a mistake or inconsistency in the original statement.

Instead, they chose to conduct an exhaustive review, which led to what we expect to be a detailed document from the White House counsel's office later today, in order to take the public relations hit and quickly move on.


They chose to do an exhaustive review???? If the situation is as simple and cut and dried as the White House is telling us it is, then the "exhaustive review" should have taken three minutes, not three months. I know bullshit when I smell it, and the fact thatClinton is involved doesn't help matters at all.

And another thing... Since when do ex-presidents do the bidding of their former chief of staff? Methinks they used Clinton precisely for his Teflon qualities in case something like this happened.

NBC is still stupid, which makes Hulu stupid

From Appleinsider:

According to report by the New York Post, unnamed sources reportedly said that "several large media companies, including Time Warner and NBC Universal, told Apple they won't retool their extensive video libraries to accommodate the iPad, arguing that such a reformatting would be expensive and not worth it because Flash dominates the Web."

The media firms are said to be betting on a new fleet of iPad-like devices promised by Dell and HP, which they expect will run Flash and therefore not require any changes to their existing libraries of web content. One media executive also pointed to the announcement of Google TV, which is expected to promote Flash as a media distribution technology, although not to mobile users.


Once again, NBC Universal proves how dumb, greedy or lazy they are. And since they also control Hulu, the midset is propagated even more.

Clinton? Really????


The White House asked former President Bill Clinton to talk to Rep. Joe Sestak about the possibility of obtaining a senior position in the Obama administration if he would drop out of the Democratic primary race against establishment-backed Sen. Arlen Specter, the Obama administration said in a report released Friday morning.


Critics say the Sestak job offer may have violated the part of the U.S. code that says: "Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation...appointment...provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress...to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity...or in connection with any primary election ...shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Iron Baby

Myths About "Going Green"

From John Stossel at Reason.com:

We're constantly urged to "go green"—use less energy, shrink our carbon footprint, save the Earth. How? We should drive less, use ethanol, recycle plastic, and buy things with the government's Energy Star label.

But what if much of going green is just bunk? Al Gore's group, Repower America, claims we can replace all our dirty energy with clean, carbon-free renewables. Gore says we can do it within 10 years.

"It's simply not possible," says Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy.

Even with subsidies, "renewable" energy today barely makes a dent on our energy needs.

Bryce points out that energy production from every solar panel and windmill in America is less than the production from one coal mine and much less than natural gas production from Oklahoma alone.

But what if we build more windmills?

"One nuclear power plant in Texas covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Manhattan. To produce the same amount of power from wind turbines would require an area the size of Rhode Island. This is energy sprawl." To produce the same amount of energy with ethanol, another "green" fuel, it would take 24 Rhode Islands to grow enough corn.

Maybe the electric car is the next big thing?

"Electric cars are the next big thing, and they always will be."

There have been impressive headlines about electric cars from my brilliant colleagues in the media. The Washington Post said, "Prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they're within reach of the average family."

That was in 1915.

In 1959, The New York Times said, "Electric is the car of the tomorrow."

In 1979, The Washington Post said, "GM has an electric car breakthrough in batteries, now makes them commercially practical."

I'm still waiting.

"The problem is very simple," Bryce said. "It's not political will. It's simple physics. Gasoline has 80 times the energy density of the best lithium ion batteries. There's no conspiracy here of big oil or big auto. It's a conspiracy of physics."

Meat Rainbow




From The Big Caption.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm Getting a New Dog



I want it to be white with brown spots and floppy ears.

Polar Clock for Snow Leopard


Up until OS X Leopard, my favorite utility of all time was Pixel Breaker's Polar Clock. But the Leopard upgrade broke it and so I've gone a couple of years now without it.

But on a whim, I checked the Pixel Breaker website this morning and found.... drumroll... Polar Clock for Snow Leopard!!!!!

It's a free screen saver available for download, and I absolutely love it.

And there's even an iPhone version now, too. And yes, there's a Windows version too (but something so beautiful just doesn't belong on a crappy old PC.)

Thanks, Pixel Breaker.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TayHoss on iTunes

I just found out that TayHoss, a Houston-area bluegrass band that I've done some work for from time to time, is now on the iTunes Store!

Until I was hired to do some work for them, I never knew a whole lot about Bluegrass music, other than that I really liked the stuff I heard on Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and from Alison Krauss. But I quickly found that there's a kind of purity to Bluegrass music, and that this band, in particular, has something special.

Check them out on YouTube. They do a song called "The Rocket," which isn't on their album but is just hauntingly sad and beautiful.



If you're interested in Bluegrass Music at all be sure to download their album, Beaumont Road, from iTunes. You're going to like it a lot.

The Numbers are Ugly

From Rasmmussen:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 25% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove...

Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the health care law. That’s the highest level of support for repeal yet measured.

Just 27% are even somewhat confident that Congress knows what it’s doing when addressing that nation’s economic challenges. That figure includes only 6% who are Very Confident that Congress knows what it’s doing.

Most Americans have “come to believe that the political system is broken, that most politicians are corrupt, and that neither major political party has the answers,” observes Scott Rasmussen. Forty-one percent (41%) of voters say that a group of people randomly selected from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress. In his new book, Scott adds, “Some of us are ready to give up and some of us are ready to scream a little louder. But all of us believe we can do better.”


The Pi Beta Phi sorority girls from Oho University could do a better job, despite the fact that they act act with the same reckless abandon that Congress has been.

Wal Mart Set to Drop iPhone Price

From CNN Money:

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, plans to slash the price of Apple's 16GB 3GS iPhone to $97 beginning Tuesday.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) is widely expected to unveil a brand-new iPhone next month, and could be working with retailers to clear out its remaining inventory of the about-to-be-outdated model.


The 3G S will run iPhone 4.0 software with multitasking, so to say the 3G S will be outdated isn't really fair. If you're in the market for an iPhone or just want to upgrade the one you currently own *cough* Matt *cough* this might be a great time to get a good deal.

Apparently, Everything You Know is Wrong

From the Smoking Gun:

For the second time in recent weeks, a chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority is being accused of drunkenly trashing a facility during a formal dance. At a March 6 party sponsored by the group's Ohio University chapter, attendees engaged in sex acts, used plates as "missiles" during food fights, vomited on carpets, defecated in urinals, and tried to tear off the clothes of a female bartender, according to a letter written by the director of the West Virginia art center where the formal was held.

Last month, the Pi Beta Phi chapter at Miami University was suspended after a wild April 9 spring formal at a lakefront Ohio lodge. In a letter detailing damages and the sorority's wild behavior, lodge owner Lyndsay Rapier-Phipps noted that the students were "totally obliterated and behaving like immature children."


I was kinda under the impression that that's what all sorority parties are like.

Let's Tell the Enemy

From the NY Times:

The top American commander in the Middle East
has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military
activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter
threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in
the region, according to defense officials and military
documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H.
Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special
Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the
Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather
intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said
the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way
for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its
nuclear ambitions escalate.


Wow. I sure am glad the New York Times didn't tell anybody. Can you imagine if they told the world that we were stepping up clandestine operations? Oh, wait.

Well, at least they didn't tell the enemy which countries we're targeting specifically so that they might take a closer look at the people in their organizations, just in case they are a U.S. spy. Oh, snap.

Well, at least the New York Times didn't tell the world about a secret directive that... what? Oh.

Thanks. Thanks for putting our soldiers in even further danger, New York Times.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Fresh Prince of Middle Earth



Completely random and awesome all at the same time.

Thank, Matt.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sprouts? Really?

From Bloomberg:

Raw alfalfa sprouts contaminated with salmonella seem to have sickened at least 22 people in 10 states, including a baby in Oregon, leading to a nationwide recall of the product.


Who feeds alfalfa sprouts to a baby? And more importantly, why do they hate that baby so much?

Armageddon Averted

It's ironic that I chose to start yesterday's post about Tech Tool because shortly afterward, I started having trouble with my computer. I ran Tech Tool and a couple of other utilities only to find out that it wasn't my computer that was having issues, it was one of my external drives, the Storage drive.

Repairing the volume structures didn't work. Formatting it didn't work. It was dead, something even the mighty Tech Tool couldn't have helped. But luckily I'm somewhat militant about making backups, especially of the drive that died. This is the one I've been dreading for years. This is the drive with all my freelance work files and family photos and videos and well, almost everything that I really care to save.

Several years ago, when I was still freelancing for a living, I realized that if this drive ever died that it would be cataclysmic in my world. My entire livelihood was on that drive - years worth of client files and clip art and illustrations I had created and stock photography. So I bought a backup hard drive and set it to back up every night.

Over the years, I've had other drives die, but it's never been much of a problem because for every external hard drive I have, I keep a backup. But luckily it's never been this one. Until yesterday.

But that piece of mind I wrote about yesterday kicked in once I realized that everything was going to be alright. I had complete backup. So, being me, I made a backup of my backup and simply began using the Storage Backup drive as my Storage drive. Now all I have to do is pop in a new hard drive and that becomes the new backup.

This tale has a happy ending, but it illustrates something very important about computers: eventually they will fail. It takes a little extra effort and expense to have a backup drive, but it's completely worth it. Instead of losing everything - my family photos, videos, illustrations, portfolio work, you name it, I lost a few hours of productivity. No big deal. Yesterday was the day I've been preparing for all these years.

Every little thing is gonna be alright...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Much is Not Using It Worth?

This morning, I was browsing through my applications folder and noticed my copy of Tech Tool Pro. Tech Tool is a utility that you use when something goes wrong with your computer and it needs to be fixed - volume structure corruption, data loss, etc. The point is that the only time I ever use it is when I absolutely need to to get my computer running properly again.

I paid around a hundred dollars for the utility several years ago and have paid a hundred or so more for updates a couple of times since then. That's a lot of money to spend on something I never use, right?

But how much is it worth to know that when something does go wrong that I have the tools to do it? I don't have to scramble around trying to figure out what I need and then spend time and money then trying to put things in order for me to do the job. It's the reason I keep all sorts of tools in my shed. I don't need them often, but when I do, I usually need them right then.

It's the same at work. I don't get to lead a team often, but I know I can and I have the tools to do it. In fact, there are a lot of things that I don't do a lot at work, but I'm prepared to when I need to. This week I did a hard-sell automotive statement stuffer - the kind I would have done routinely about ten years ago you know the kind: bright colors, bursts, annoying and bold typefaces, in-your-face graphics). Luckily, I haven't had to do one of those (or anything like it) in several years. But this week I did. And I was prepared.

One thing I've learned in life is that everything happens for a reason. We may not know it at the time, but it builds our character or our skill set n such a way that, even if you fail the first time, you're more prepared the next time.

I'm not saying I did seven years of hard-sell just so I would know how to do this one project. I think if anything, this one project came along to remind me that I did seven years of hard-sell and have been fortunate enough since then to do some much more fun, elegant stuff. But I had the tools. And that means a lot.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Have a Solution to the BP Oil Leak

It's been flowing for a month now, and by recent accounts it seems to be gushing like crazy. I don't understand why they don't just fly down to China and drill a well there and reduce the pressure from the other end. Duh.

Come on, BP. Use your heads.

The Empire at Thirty

From Vanity Fair:

Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, a film most Star Wars fans consider the best of the franchise’s six films. Just three years after Star Wars revolutionized the blockbuster, Empire redefined it again, proving that a film that took place in outer space and featured light sabers and blasters could also be smart and, yes, depressing.

Empire doesn’t even have that complex of a plot: Heroes get attacked, heroes try to escape and get their asses kicked in the process. The end.

Empire’s plot taught a generation of children that when life gets you down ... it’s probably only going to get worse. The most positive people I know all love Return of the Jedi; the cynics love Empire.

Thirty years ago today, a generation of cynical Star Wars fans were born. It’s hard to imagine a “kids’ movie” released today having that much of an impact—about as hard as imagining anyone, in 2032, caring about the 30th anniversary of Attack of the Clones.


Exactly. Take a few minutes and read the entire article. Hilarious, but NSFW.

Amazing Ad from Nike

I'm not a soccer guy, but then, this isn't really a soccer ad. It's simply amazing.

The Congress We Need

From an op-ed in the New York Times on Rand Paul:

The Tea Party phenomenon has provided a bolt of energy for the Republican Party. But the case of Mr. Paul also shows the risks that have emerged as new figures move to the forefront of conservative politics, as candidates with little experience and sometimes unorthodox policy positions face the kind of scrutiny and pressure that could trip up even the most experienced politicians.


So what we're saying, then, is that we don't want our elected representatives to be real? We actually prefer wooden, stone-faced liars who only seek consensus rather than actual solutions? Or worse yet, who only seek to say the "right things" in order to get elected again and to look good, the best interests of the country be damned?

I don't know much about Rand Paul, but I would argue that we need more people in Congress like him - on both sides - who know what they believe in (and more importantly why) and base their decisions on that rather than political expediency. Things might not get done as quickly in Congress, but the end results would certainly be more meaningful and well thought-out. And the debate would be fascinating.

There's truth in the saying: "it takes all kinds."

Hail in Oklahoma. Craaaaaaaaaaaap!



Thanks to Jolie W. for sharing this.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Fear That Google is Evil.

From All Things Digital: (via Daring Fireball)

“If we did not act, we faced a draconian future. Where one man, one company, one carrier was the future.”

– Google Vice-President of Engineering Vic Gundotra explains why the company made Android.


That's pretty funny coming from Google, which is hell-bent on taking over everything. Advertising? Check. Search? Check? Computer OS? Check. Mobile OS? Check. Mail client? Check? Streaming TV box? Check. Maps client? Check (now with wi-fi data siphoning!) Blog host? Check. News feed? Check. Online shopping client? Check. YouTube? Check. Web browser? Check. Online music service? Check. App store? Check. And the list goes on and on.

This is why I'm very wary of Google and its creeping influence into our daily lives. I fear that we're going to wake up one day in a world where there are no real alternatives to Google. Almost everything is powered by Google now as it is, and they've been buying up all sorts of companies left and right lately in order to get their patents or their technology.

And God forbid if Google's data ever fell into the wrong hands. It could be cataclysmic. Watching the rise of Google has been almost like watching an evil genius systematically build his empire with the intent of world domination in a sci-fi movie. Add the possibility of a stealth attack that provided the Google Master with data on every PC on the planet - or worse, control of every computer on the planet, and you've got a recipe for for really bad things.

You've got to wonder if Google's motto, "Don't be evil," is a simple ruse to placate us until it's too late.

Uncle Sam Theater



Thanks to Ted D. for passing this along.

Cowboys need to know about Texas, too.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

From Reason.com:

To hear them tell it, the officers who apprehended 39-year-old David Pyles on March 8 thwarted a mass murder. The cops “were able to successfully take a potentially volatile male subject into protective custody for a mental evaluation,” the Medford, Oregon, police department announced in a press release. The subject had been placed on administrative leave from his job not long before, was “very disgruntled,” and had recently purchased several firearms. “Local Law Enforcement agencies were extremely concerned that the subject was planning retaliation against his employers,” the press release said. Fortunately, Pyles “voluntarily” turned himself over to police custody, and his legally purchased firearms “were seized for safekeeping.”

This supposedly voluntary exchange involved two SWAT teams, officers from Medford and nearby Roseburg, sheriff’s deputies from Jackson and Douglas counties, and the Oregon State Police. Pyles hadn’t committed any crime; nor was he suspected of having committed one. The police never obtained a warrant for either search or arrest. They never consulted with a judge or a mental health professional before sending military-style tactical teams to take Pyles in.

“They woke me up with a phone call at about 5:50 in the morning,” Pyles says. “I looked out the window and saw the SWAT team pointing their guns at my house. The officer on the phone told me to turn myself in. I told them I would, on three conditions. I would not be handcuffed. I would not be taken off my property. And I would not be forced to get a mental health evaluation. He agreed. The second I stepped outside, they jumped me. Then they handcuffed me, took me off my property, and took me to get a mental health evaluation.”

By noon, Pyles had already been released from the Rogue Valley Medical Center with a clean bill of mental health. Four days later the Medford Police Department returned Pyles’ guns, despite telling him earlier in the week—falsely—that he would need to undergo a second background check before he could get them back. The Medford Police Department then put out a second press release, this time announcing that it had returned the “disgruntled” worker’s guns and “now considers this matter closed.”

First the Supreme Court allows the government to hold prisoners indefinitely without due process, now this. Chilling.

Thanks to Matt, who is obviously trying to kill me.

Traffic School

This is a short film featuring Jeff Hodge, the comedian who gave me my first break as an illustrator. Back in 1993 and 1994 he hired me to illustrate two of his books, Things that Tick Me Off About Driving and 101 Ways to Stay Awake When on the Road, respectively.

I just got word that it has been selected to the Short Film Festival of Los Angeles. Good luck, Jeff.

Comedy Traffic School - Director: Scott F. Evans from Annual Program Without Frontiers on Vimeo.

Too Political

I took a look at Destructoville a couple of days ago and came to the realization that I think it's gotten a little more political than I intended for it to be. I started this blog as place for me to rant and share stories and geeky stuff and stuff I find funny. But over the course of the past year and a half, I've found myself ranting a lot more about national politics. And let me be clear - there has been A LOT to rant about because I don't like a lot of the things I see going on in our country.

But I'm not just about that.

So my commitment to you, dear Destructoville visitor, is to try to mix in at least one funny thing and/or at least one profound idea each day here in Destructoville. I'll still rant and give my take on politics and news of the day - I can't help myself for being a really opinionated guy. But it does get a little old after awhile.

And while I'm at it, thanks for visiting Destructoville every now and then and for all your suggestions and e-mails and gifts and cards and letters filled with small, unmarked, untraceable bills.

Now get off the lawn!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quote of the Day...

"...We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone."

-Steve Jobs in April following the iPhone 4.0 event.

Thanks to Jolie W. for sharing.

Dave Matthews to Take a Break from Touring

From Dave Matthews Band via e-mail blast:

As we feel the excitement building for this summer, we wanted to let everyone know that after twenty years of consecutive touring, Dave Matthews Band will be taking 2011 off. We feel lucky that our tours are a part of so many people's lives, and wanted to give everyone as much notice as possible. We're excited to make this summer one of our best tours yet, and look forward to returning to the road in 2012.


Wow. Taking a year off after twenty years. Now that's something noteworthy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yet Another Liar and Poser in the Democrat Party

From the NY Times:
Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who is running for the United
States Senate from Connecticut, never served in Vietnam,
despite statements to the contrary. The Times has found that
he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to
1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going
to war.


I love the headline: Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History

*cough* Liar Liar Fatigues on Fire! *cough*

I Had Dream

I woke up this morning with a dream I was having still fresh in my mind: Star Wars versus Thundercats. Lion-O versus Darth Vader. Light saber versus Sword of Omens. The Force versus the Eye of Thundera - that was my dream.

And it was awesome.

George W. Bush is Still The Devil, Apparently

From Newsweek:

When he ran for president, Barack Obama's effervescent campaign was about hope, optimism, national unity, and, above all, the future. He offered a vision of a new world cooperatively shaped by a new generation. The message was mostly positive and upbeat, in part because it was obvious that outgoing Republican President George W. Bush had made a hash of the economy and led the country into two controversial wars. Americans, Obama strategists felt, wanted the uplift of looking forward.

Two years later the president is tentatively unveiling the strategy he and fellow Democrats will pursue in this fall's election season, and it has a heavy dose of ... looking backward. It's going to be as much about history as hope, and more about attacking Republicans than promoting his own vision. The goal is to give pause to independent voters eager to punish Obama for their economic insecurity by voting for GOP candidates. The message: we can't return power to the very people who gave us the catastrophic Great Recession to begin with.


Head.... bulging.... Pressure.... buidling..... Must keep head from exploding........

Let's take a look at just a couple of these sentences:

"It's going to be as much about history as hope, and more about attacking Republicans than promoting his own vision."
We've now seen Obama's vision for the nation and he and everyone else now knows that a vast majority don't like what they see. First of all, he's not up for election, so I'm not sure why anyone is expecting him to waste his brand of political campaigning on anyone in the Congress. He owns Hope and Change, and by the time of the election he will have been in office for almost two years. No one on the left wants to point to the lack of Hope or the brand of Change that we actually got (rather than what what was sold to his supporters.) And if there is a lack of Hope and Change, then it's equally the fault of both Obama and the Congress, who can (and have) rammed their agenda through despite protests from Republicans and the citizenry.

"The message: we can't return power to the very people who gave us the catastrophic Great Recession to begin with."
Excuse me? The Clinton administration and Democrats in Congress were the ones who forced banks and mortgage lenders to make risky loans to people who couldn't repay them. It is completely false and wholly unfair to say that Republicans are to blame for the Great Recession. Remember - Democrats have controlled the Congress since 2006. The twelve years prior - the years of Republican Congressional control - were some of the best times economically our country has ever seen.

This is the Democrats trying to whip the dead horse that is George W. Bush yet again. They've created this notion that he was one of the worst presidents of all time and are trying to make hay out of that while they still can (personally, I think his father was worse). It's simply a diversionary tactic to try to throw light away from the Democrats' actions the past couple of years: the unpopular health care reform bill, TARP, waste-fraught stimulus bills, illegal immigration, cap and trade and their actual culpability in the causes of the recession.

Then, I almost vomited when I read this:
Elections are always a game of comparison, but attack politics are not supposed to be part of the Obama brand, and they could be undercut by what Americans like best about him: his steady, genial calm.


and this:
There are signs of recovery, to be sure, and most fair-minded analysts would say that Obama’s calm leadership, even before he took office, helped save the U.S. and the world from a more widespread and immediate meltdown.


Funny, Obama has never brought to mind the words "calm" and "leadership" to me. He actually seems in over his head and has seemed at times like fish flopping and flailing around in the bottom of a boat.

What's scary is that I think some people actually believe crap like this about Obama. He's still their savior.

And finally this:
This much is clear: the president can't lead the Democrats in the midterm elections by bragging about the stimulus. But what he can do is remind everyone of the global meltdown that clobbered us all on Bush's watch in 2008—the consequence, in good measure of Bush policies and those of former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan. And he can attack what polls show to be the least popular political entity on the American landscape: the congressional Republican Party.

Alan Greenspan was Clinton's guy. Hello??? I'll take half truths and revisionism for 500, Alex.

And who did they ask in the poll, congressional Democrats? Come on. My B.S. detector is off the charts at that statement.

Still Guilty Until Big Brother Thinks Otherwise


From the NY Times:

In a broad endorsement of federal power, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Congress has the authority under the Constitution to allow the continued confinement of some sex offenders after they have completed their criminal sentences.

The law allows the federal government to continue to detain prisoners who had engaged in sexually violent conduct, suffered from mental illness and would have difficulty controlling themselves. If the government is able to prove all of this to a judge by “clear and convincing” evidence — a heightened standard, but short of “beyond a reasonable doubt” — it may hold such prisoners until they are no longer dangerous or until a state government assumes responsibility for them.


This is simply chilling. I cannot imagine that in the United States if someone is guilty of a crime and a judge and jury have sentenced them to serve a sentence that if they serve out their prescribed punishment that the government can just continue to imprison them without so much as another trial or due process.

The government can now imprison people indefinitely with no recourse.

And worse yet, the government is the one who gets to determine if the prisoner has "suffered from mental illness"or "would have difficulty controlling themselves."

How long until dissent is "metal illness?"

I don't seem to recall anywhere in the Constitution (or anywhere else) that says that a standard for citizenry is that one must have an easy tie of controlling ones self. I'm sure that a sex offender might have a difficult time controlling themselves once they are free again. So would a drug dealer or a gangster or a white collar criminal or a petty thief. We hear about it all the time - people who get out of jail and struggle to walk the righteous path. There are always temptations, but we must at least give them the opportunity to do what's right. But now the government has the right, and the power apparently, to look into the future to determine that a criminal will return to their criminal behavior and preemptively lock them away. It's very Minority Report - thought crimes in the future can now be punished.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for himself and four other justices, said the “necessary and proper” clause applies so long as the statute in question “is rationally related to the implementation of a constitutionally enumerated power.” The civil confinement law, he went on, satisfied that standard given, among other things, “the government’s custodial interest in safeguarding the public from dangers posed by those in federal custody.”
Wrong. Once a debt to society is paid by the rules established in the court system, then those in federal custody should be released, regardless of the danger the may continue to pose to the public. Changing the rules of the game at the end of the game isn't fair or right, especially if one of the players has absolutely no say in the outcome.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, dissented in the case, United States v. Comstock.

“The fact that the federal government has the authority to imprison a person for the purpose of punishing him for a federal crime — sex-related or otherwise — does not provide the Government with the additional power to exercise indefinite civil control over that person,” Justice Thomas wrote.


It is a sad day for liberty in the United States.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Beyond the Lighted Stage



Don't bother looking for me on June 10. I'll be at the Studio Movie Grill in Houston for a one-night-only showing.

ZZ Top, too...

This just in...

ZZ Top will be opening for Tom Petty at the Houston show on September 24.

Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lazy People Prefer Something for Nothing

From the Detroit News:

In a state with the nation's highest jobless rate, landscaping companies are finding some job applicants are rejecting work offers so they can continue collecting unemployment benefits.

It is unclear whether this trend is affecting other seasonal industries. But the fact that some seasonal landscaping workers choose to stay home and collect a check from the state, rather than work outside for a full week and spend money for gas, taxes and other expenses, raises questions about whether extended unemployment benefits give the jobless an incentive to avoid work.

Members of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association "have told me that they have a lot of people applying but that when they actually talk to them, it turns out that they're on unemployment and not looking for work," said Amy Frankmann, the group's executive director. "It is starting to make things difficult."

The average landscape worker earns about $12 per hour, according to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth. A full-time landscaping employee would make $225 more a week working than from an unemployment check of $255.

But after federal and state taxes are deducted, a full-time landscaper would earn $350 a week, or $95 more than a jobless check. The gap could narrow further for those who worked at other higher-paying seasonal jobs, such as construction or roofing, which would result in a larger benefits check.

The jobless in Michigan are collecting for a longer time -- an average of 19.4 weeks last year, up from 15 weeks in 2008. State benefits last for up to 26 weeks. The unemployed can then apply for extended federal benefits that increase the total time on the public dole up to a maximum of 99 weeks.

The federal jobless benefits extension "is the most generous safety net we've ever offered nationally," said David Littmann, senior economist of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market-oriented research group in Midland. The extra protection reduces the incentive to find work, he said.


What they should do is follow the Navy's lead and start handing out medals for doing nothing.

This obviously doesn't apply to everyone who is unemployed, though. I happen to know a few people who are unemployed and it's not for a lack of trying to find suitable work in their field. But the difference is that they're actually trying. But at some point I think I'd take anything that pays temporarily. Something coming in is better than nothing - or government cheese - any day in my book.

Thanks to Matt for sending this and pushing me one step closer to my head exploding.

Austin officials vote to boycott Arizona

From KHOU:

The Austin City Council has voted to cut
business and travel ties with Arizona to protest the state's new
law targeting illegal immigrants.
A unanimous council vote adopted the resolution proposed by
council member Mike Martinez. The Austin American-Statesman reports
the resolution calls for an end to all city business travel to
Arizona. Exceptions are travel for police investigations, providing
humanitarian aid or to protect Austin residents health and safety.
But council member Bill Spelman, a co-sponsor of the resolution,
says this will not mean "a dramatic shift in the city's
policies."
City Controller Diana Thomas says Austin has no contracts with
nor investments in the state of Arizona. Also, 48 city employees
took 20 business trips to Arizona over the past year at a cost of
$47,908.


And in other news, the Mayor and City Council of Destructoville have vowed to boycott Austin for supporting illegal immigration. Luckily, Round Rock and Pflugerville are still on the approved travel list, though...

Death without a Trial

From the NY Times:

The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.

The notion that the government can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy.

To eavesdrop on the terrorism suspect who was added to the target list, the American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is hiding in Yemen, intelligence agencies would have to get a court warrant. But designating him for death, as C.I.A. officials did early this year with the National Security Council’s approval, required no judicial review.

“Congress has protected Awlaki’s cellphone calls,” said Vicki Divoll, a former C.I.A. lawyer who now teaches at the United States Naval Academy. “But it has not provided any protections for his life. That makes no sense.”

Administration officials take the view that no legal or constitutional rights can protect Mr. Awlaki, a charismatic preacher who has said it is a religious duty to attack the United States and who the C.I.A. believes is actively plotting violence. The attempted bombing of Times Square on May 1 is the latest of more than a dozen terrorist plots in the West that investigators believe were inspired in part by Mr. Awlaki’s rhetoric.

“American citizenship doesn’t give you carte blanche to wage war against your own country,” said a counterterrorism official who discussed the classified program on condition of anonymity. “If you cast your lot with its enemies, you may well share their fate.”


So now the administration can sentence you to die without even the benefit of a trial, which the Constitution provides for specifically.

How soon can we have an election?

Big Brother from All Sides

From the Orange County Register:

Big Brother wants to watch you more closely. Especially how you spend your money.

His latest snooping plan comes from provisions in the banking bill being debated in the Senate. The bill is being pushed by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Among other things, the bill is supposed to alert regulators to hazards in the industry to prevent another financial meltdown like the one that started in September 2008, and to make it easier to spot rip-off artists like Bernard Madoff.

The bill sets up two new supersnooping federal agencies to collect data on ordinary Americans:

•The Office of Financial Research. This supposedly would predict risk in the system by collecting massive amounts of new financial data, such as patterns of credit card use.

•The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It would collect data, especially on consumer transactions.

The data are supposed to be "scrubbed" of individual identifiers, so your privacy would be protected. But that might not work, Mark Calabria told us; the director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute formerly was a member of the senior professional staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

"If you can link the data to courthouse records of housing sales," he said, then anyone can find data on others. "Much of this goes beyond what banks do now" to keep data. Under the new law, the government would detail "your charges at Macy's and car payments. It would be fairly detailed information."

Another problem, he added, is that the law "is extremely vague and empowering of the regulators. You as a consumer will have no opportunity to opt out. They'll be collecting, anyway, and you won't even know."


Please notice tht all of these "Big Brother" type bills and efforst are coming from Democrats. Please vote accordingly in the fall. Thank you. That is all.

The Government Wants to Track Our Kids

from CNSNews:

A bill introduced this month in Congress would put the federal and state governments in the business of tracking how fat, or skinny, American children are.

States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis.

The Healthy Choices Act--introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee--would establish and fund a wide range of programs and regulations aimed at reducing obesity rates by such means as putting nutritional labels on the front of food products, subsidizing businesses that provide fresh fruits and vegetables, and collecting BMI measurements of patients and counseling those that are overweight or obese.


This is just plain insidiousness being thinly disguised as helpfulness. Scary, scary big-brotherish stuff.

Hold Your Fire, Earn a Medal

From the Navy Times:

U.S. troops in Afghanistan could soon be awarded a medal for not doing something, a precedent-setting award that would be given for “courageous restraint” for holding fire to save civilian lives.

The proposal is now circulating in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force, a command spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

A spokesman for the 2.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation’s largest group of combat veterans, thinks the award would cause confusion among the ranks and send a bad signal.

“The self-protections built into the rules of engagement are clear, and the decision to return fire must be made instantly based on training and the threat,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The enemy already hides among noncombatants, and targets them, too. The creation of such an award will only embolden their actions and put more American and noncombatant lives in jeopardy. Let’s not rush to create something that no one wants to present posthumously.”


Why not? It's pretty consistent with the goals of this administration and other socialists: reward people for doing nothing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Swagger Wagon

Great video from Toyota. I haven't been a huge fan of the Sienna family spots, but I thought this was very clever, funny and very well done.



Thanks to Kristi for sending me this motherfatherin' video.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Should Have Known It



Damn. I can't wait for June 15 and my copy of Mojo to get here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

True Grit

I'm on the road for a photo shoot, and today as I was driving through the small Texas town of Blanco, I noticed what I first thought was renovations being done to the courthouse. There was scaffolding, big lights and trailers circling the courthouse square. Then I noticed craft service truck and cast trailers and realized that this was a film shoot.

I asked the local Germania agent, and she told me that they were shooting a Matt Damon movie there. I saw actors in period costumes, so a quick check on IMDB told me that it was the remake of True Grit, the old John Wayne film. Awesome.

I'm staying down the road in Fredericksburg, so here's hoping I run into Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges or Josh Brolin tonight in Luckenbach.

Friday, May 7, 2010

On Cinco de Mayo

From the Houston Chronicle:

With a brutal drug war still raging in the Mexican border towns of Reynosa and Ciudad Juarez, and now the fear of a strict immigration bill in Arizona that makes it a crime to not carry immigration documents, you might think Mexicans would look forward to something worth celebrating, like Cinco de Mayo. But for most Mexicans today is just another Wednesday, or el miƩrcoles, the third day of the week.

Though many people in the U.S. regard this date as a celebration of Mexico's independence, in truth, Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla and the Mexican army's defeat of a much larger and better-equipped French army attempting to conquer its weakened government. The victory was short-lived, as the French took over the country a year later and remained in power for the next three years. The battle itself reportedly lasted only from dawn to early evening on May 5, 1861. Compared to Mexico's fight for independence against the Spanish empire, a struggle that lasted for more than 10 years, or the U.S.-Mexico War, which led to the defeated nation losing two-thirds of its territory — including those areas now known as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California — the Battle of Puebla was little more than a skirmish in the country's long and bloody history. Today in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo will be commemorated primarily in the state of Puebla and recognized during a small ceremony in the capitol.

The holiday, which has never really been much of one in Mexico, crossed over to this side of the border in the 1950s and 1960s, as civil rights activists were attempting to build harmony between the two countries and cultures. The date gained more attention in the 1980s when marketers, particularly beer companies, saw this as a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the celebratory nature of the holiday.


Be careful. Bastille Day is coming. Don't be caught wearing an American flag t-shirt on July 14th.

U.S. Economy Adds 290,000 Jobs in April

From the NYTimes:

The American economy added 290,000 jobs in April ... Analysts had expected a gain of about 190,000 jobs in
the month.


Once again, the "experts" and "analysts" get it wrong. Why do we keep listening to them, again?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 5 - The Day It's Not Okay to Be an American

From the NY Daily News:


A handful of California students got an unexpected lesson at their high school this week: Don't wear your stars and stripes on Cinco de Mayo.

Five Morgan Hill, California students were asked to take off their American flag bandannas and turn their T-shirts inside out after students complained, according to NBC news in San Francisco.

Many members of Live Oak High School's large Mexican-American student population that felt it was offensive for the students to wear the American flag on a day that's supposed to celebrate Mexican heritage.

When the boys refused to take off their flag t-shirts and bandannas, they were ordered to go to the principal's office.

"They said we could wear it on any other day," Live Oak student Daniel Galli said, "but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today."


Note to morons in California: Conco de Mayo is a holiday publicized by the Corona beer company in order to sell beer, not to "celebrate Mexican heritage." Check the wikipedia page, which says this: "The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico."

And since when does one expressing pride in one's own country somehow cheapen the pride someone else feels for , I guess, their home country?

Thanks to Matt, who obviously wants my head to explode, for sending this along.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

McCain Gets it Wrong (again)

As reported yesterday on Daring Fireball:

Republicans vs. the Bill of Rights. John McCain:

It would have been a serious mistake to have read the suspect in the attempted Times Square car bombing his Miranda rights, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.):

“Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still,” King said.

Don’t forget “independent” Joe Lieberman.


Gruber linked this piece at the Washington Monthly.

What makes this maddening is that McCain and King seem to be saying that the police should have arrested this guy and held him until such time as his citizenship could be determined (which, in the case of a foreign national or a terrorist) might take some time. But this guy was an American citizen, albeit a new one. And citizens of the United State have rights.

I think that the standard should be this: if someone is arrested on United States soil, they should be treated as a citizen and assumed to be so until they are proven to be otherwise. Now that requires asking the citizenship question that liberals and illegal immigration advocates are so opposed to. But if applied uniformly to everyone, it is fair to both citizens and illegals.

Oh, and McCain and King should be drummed out of office for advocating that a citizen's basic rights not be respected. This kind of crap is the very reason that conservatives are so fed up with Congress and especially with so-called Republicans who purport to be representing us. True conservatives are about liberty and freedom and justice. This issue illustrates all three and what we've been saying for years - McCain is wrong on all them important issues.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stupid, Stupid Arnold

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Haunted by gulf oil spill, Schwarzenegger drops plan to fund parks with new drilling

The catastrophic oil slick spreading through the Gulf of Mexico has claimed another victim: Cash for California's strapped parks system.

Painting a grim picture of the spill's devastation, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday backed away from a contentious drilling proposal off the coast of Southern California that officials hoped would raise $1.8 billion for state parks over the next 14 years.

Still, scenes of idled fishermen and oil-sickened water birds in the Gulf convinced the governor more drilling is not the answer.

"It will not happen here in California," Schwarzenegger said at a news conference. "If I have a choice between the $100 million and what I see in the Gulf of Mexico, I'd rather just figure out how to make up for that $100 million."


I've been waiting for this kind of a knee-jerk reaction to the oil spill in the Gulf. I should've known that it would have come from California and from it's RINO governor.

Think about this. There are literally hundreds of offshore platforms in the Gulf. I've lived near the Gulf Coast all my life and this is the only such incident I can ever recall of an offshore rig not only sinking, but dumping oil into the Gulf. The way people are reacting, you'd think that this kind of thing happens all the time. But it doesn't.

What I find really interesting is that a few days ago Obama made a big show out of saying that he was sending SWAT teams out to other Gulf oil rigs. Now why would one do that? The only reason I can think of is if there were some sort of an armed standoff or to look for a bomb. Could it be that the rig in the gulf was sunk by a bomb - either of domestic or foreign origin? It's interesting that after that statement we haven't heard another thing about SWAT teams and it seems the media simply isn't asking.

As for California, I'm sure they'll be able to find $100 million elsewhere, right? It's not like they're broke and handing out IOUs for tax refunds or anything...

The Childish World View of Progressives

From Cafe Hayek:

Low-skilled workers earning too little? No problem! Pass a minimum-wage statute – one that either miraculously makes low-skilled workers more productive, or miraculously suspends the laws of supply and demand so that wages are no longer bound by this reality.

Too many Americans getting too little health care for your taste? No problem! Legislate that health-insurance be available and affordable to everyone. Abracadabra! Problem solved!

Rents too high? Zippidy-doo-da — rent-control makes them lower.

A foreign country is plagued by a brutal dictator and infused with dysfunctional cultural norms? No worries! Shazam! The U.S. military will fix that problem up in a jiffy!


Thanks to Matt for sharing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why does the Wall Street regulation overhaul give FTC authority over the Internet?

From HotAir.com:



I've included the text of the full article because it's an excellent piece and is relatively short (and its conclusions match exactly those I wanted to make). Emphasis added is mine.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported on another little Easter egg in a bill cruising through Congress that would normally have followed Nancy Pelosi’s policy of discovery ex post facto. Democrats have pushed hard to get the financial-regulation reform bill unstuck in the Senate, mainly playing on class-warfare themes in painting the GOP as the party of eeeeeeevil Wall Street robber barons. However, the House version of the bill contains provisions that would put the Federal Trade Commission in position to start issuing rules on Internet transactions that would not only slow down business growth but also have no relevance at all to the financial collapse that prompted the bill:

The Federal Trade Commission could become a more powerful watchdog for Internet users under a little-known provision in financial overhaul legislation that would expand the agency’s ability to create rules.

An emboldened FTC would stand in stark contrast to a besieged Federal Communications Commission, whose ability to oversee broadband providers has been cast into doubt after a federal court ruled last month that the agency lacked the ability to punish Comcast for violating open-Internet guidelines.

The version of regulatory overhaul legislation passed by the House would allow the FTC to issue rules on a fast track and permit the agency to impose civil penalties on companies that hurt consumers. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has argued in favor of bolstering his agency’s enforcement ability. …

Major media, telecom and cable companies stand to win or lose greatly from changes at the FTC and FCC. For example, a proposed rule at the FCC would force carriers to treat all Web traffic equally on their networks. That has drawn sharp opposition from broadband service providers, who would prefer that Congress mandate such a change. Comcast has complained that some traffic is so heavy that it slows the entire system.

The proposal to expand the FTC’s authority has sparked a flurry of lobbying by advertisers, industry groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which are seeking to block it citing concerns about possible overreach by the agency.


This has become a pattern with this Congress and administration. Despite having large majorities in both chambers, Democrats refuse to use the legislative path to pass regulation — mainly because the regulations they want are too radical to pass. Instead, they shift the creation of regulation to agencies like the EPA and its “endangerment” finding for CO2, which would then require Congress and the President to undo rather than vote to impose in the first place.

Even considering that pattern, this is something out of the ordinary. Neither the FTC nor the Internet had anything to do with the Wall Street meltdown in 2008. If this financial-regulation bill is so desperately needed, why did House Democrats lard it up with this power grab at the FTC? Why does the FTC need any further authority over the Internet, where fraud and abuse regulations apply already? The Internet economy has been one of the bright spots throughout a dismal period of recent history. Do we need to attack the one area that shows growth and promise?

Nancy Pelosi knows that her Democratic majorities won’t last much longer. She wants to leave behind a Byzantine structure of unaccountable bureaucrats and embedded power to accomplish what she can’t get through the legitimate processes of lawmaking, and she’s hiding those efforts in so-called emergency legislation. Keep an eye on this during the conference committee on the financial-regulation bill; it’s not in the Senate version, but will almost certainly reappear in the conference report.


This is the same thing that happened with the "emergency" TARP and stimulus bills - what should have been a bare-bones attempt to jump start the economy was laden with pork projects, earmarks and completely unrelated spending.

Shameful.

Much thanks to Matt for sending this.

Lens Envy: Canon 75-350mm

This week Target is advertising a Canon 75-350mm 4-5.6 III telephoto lens for $199.



However, the same lens at Amazon is only $155.

I haven't used this lens, but the 55-250 that I use at work is a pretty good telephoto lens. I imagine a 350 would be pretty great to have in the arsenal sometimes.

Just a heads up not to spend too much...