Friday, December 29, 2006

National Park Service under orders not to offend fundies with geology


Park Service inanity: they won't tell us how old the Grand Canyon is
by Don Hazen

A new book claiming that Noah's Flood is responsible for the big hole is for sale at the Grand Canyon book store.


According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in a report released this week [PDF], Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees.

Furthermore, a book approved by the Service claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood ,rather than by geologic forces, is on sale in the park for more than three years, even though a review was promised to Congress and the press. A Freedom of Information request [PDF] reveals that no review has ever been requested, nor taken place.

"In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,"
stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is 'no comment.'" PEER urged [PDF] the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon.

Hard to believe... where is Richard Dawkins when we need him?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Republican aide busted for hiring hackers to change grades! Squirrels involved.




(from Talking Points Memo -- it's a beaut! -- brook)


Congressional aide admits trying to hire hackers -- to boost his college GPA

According to Network World's Paul McNamara, the communications director for U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Todd Shriber, hired two 'hackers' to break into the computer of his alma mater, Texas Christian University, and change his college grades.

He went trolling for the law-breaking 'hackers' on a computer security website. But instead of finding anyone to do his dirty work he came across a couple non-criminally minded techies who proceeded to chat him up about his scheme, draw out in explicit detail that what he was asking them to do involved mulitple felonies and then posted their complete email correspondence on the site, attrition.org.

This all happened back in September. But it was apparently only this week that McNamara, who has a blog at the Network World site, figured out who Todd Shriber was and started trying to get the guy on the record about what the hell he was thinking.

After what was apparently a good deal of prodding, Shriber told McNamara: "I did something that's greatly out of character for me and it's a mistake that I regret." Asked why he attempted this criminal enterprise: ""I would rather not get into that at all. I just got a little too far ahead of myself thinking about things down the road."

I'm tempted to stop there. But the correspondence is just too good in comedy terms and shows that not only does Shriber probably lack the ethical fiber to serve in Congress (I guess that can mean more than one thing) but may also be the stupidest person on the planet.

Here's Shriber's first solicitation ...


I came across Attrition.org for the first time. I enjoyed the site though I am not an expert
with computers. That brings me to my next point: I need to urgently make contact with a hacker that would be interested in doing a one-time job for me. The pay would be good. I'm not sure what exactly the job would entail with respect to computer jargon, but I can go into rough detail upon making contact with a candidate. Thanks for your help.


After he gets the first nibble he assures the 'hacker' he's talking to that ...


the job wouldn't be anything like invading a government mainframe for classified documents or stealing money from a bank. Rather it'd be a modification of some personal data.


Then he puts his cards on the table ...


OK here it is: I need an adjustment to my college GPA. Is this an absurd request?


It pretty much goes down hill from there, with the highlight probably being the request for pictures. The 'hackers' ask for pictures of the campus with squirrels and pigeons to make sure he's 'legit'. He says he doesn't live near campus anymore. Remember, he lives in DC, not Texas. So they tell him any picture of a pigeon or squirrel will do. Don't ask. You've got to read it to believe it.

Here's the picture of a squirrel (looks like near the Capitol) that this imbecile Shriber sent in ...



The whole thing is so amazingly ridiculous that I would be sure the whole thing was a hoax, except a reporter for a legit computer trade publication looked into it and it checked out and he even got the congressional staffer to 'fess up.

(UPDATE: SHRIBER FIRED!)

here's a SECRET DOCUMENT on the coming DRAFT

(yeah yeah -- most of "the old gang" is already TOO OLD for the draft as the upper limit is age 35 -- but, self-interest be damned! this document is AMAZING. it basically says that there are certain SKILL SETS such as language arts, network engineering and MEDICAL TRADES, that are TOO EXPENSIVE to procure the old fashioned way and so this paper recommends a SKILLS DRAFT to grab that talent against its will. makes me glad my trainiing is in philosophy. btw -- this document was obtained thru the Freedom of Information Act, so -- YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE READING THIS! -- enjoy, brook)


11 February 2003
ISSUE PAPER

Synopsis:

With known shortages of military personnel with certain critical skills, and with the need for the nation to be capable of responding to domestic emergencies as part of Homeland Security planning, changes should be made in the Selective Service System’s registration program and primary mission.

Situation:

Currently, and in accordance with the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA) <50 U.S.C., App. 451 et seq.>, the Selective Service System (SSS) collects and maintains Personal information from all U.S. male citizens and resident aliens. Under this process, Each man is required to “present himself for and submit to registration” upon reaching age 18.

The methods by which a man can register with Selective Service include the internet, mail-back postcard, checking a box on the other government forms, and through the driver’s license applications process in many states. The collected data is retained in an active computer file until the man reaches the age 26 and is no longer draft eligible. It consists of the man’s name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. Currently, 91 percent of all men, ages 18 through 25, are registered, enabling the SSS to conduct a timely, fair, and equitable draft in the event the Congress and the President decide to reinstate conscription during a crisis.

However, the Secretary of Defense and Department of Defense manpower officials have stated recently that a draft will not be necessary for any foreseeable crisis. They assume that sufficient fighting capability exists in today’s “all-volunteer” active and reserve Armed Forces for likely contingencies, making a conventional draft of untrained manpower somewhatt (sic) obsolete. Yet, Defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc. The costs of attracting and retaining such personnel for military-service could be prohibitive, leading some officials to conclude that while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis, if too few volunteer.

Proposal:

In line with today’s needs, the SSS structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered towards maintaining a national inventory of American men and (for the first time) women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills.

An interagency task force should examine the feasibility of this proposal which would require amendments to the MSSA, expansion of the current registration program, and inclusion of women. In addition to the basic identifying information collected in the current program, the expanded and revised program would require all registrants to indicate whether they have been trained in, possess, and professionally practice, one or more skills critical to national security or community health and safety. This could take the form of an initial “self-declaration” as a part of the registration process. Men and women would enter on the SSS registration form a multi-digit number representing their specific critical skill (e.g., similar to military occupational specialty or Armed Forces Specialty Code with Skill Identifier), taken from a lengthy list of skills to be compiled and published by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Individuals proficient in more than one critical skill would list the practiced skill in which they have the greatest degree of experience and competency. They would also be required to update reported information as necessary until they reach the age 35. This unique data base would provide the military (and national, state, and municipal government agencies) with immediately available links to vital human resources…in effect, a single, most accurate and complete, national inventory of young Americans with special skills.

While the data base’s “worst-case” use might be to draft such personnel into military or homeland security assignments during a national mobilization, its very practical peacetime use could be to support recruiting and direct marketing campaigns aimed at encouraging skilled personnel to volunteer for community or military service opportunities, and to consider applying for hard-to-fill public sector jobs. Local government agencies could also tap this data base to locate nearby specialists for help with domestic crises and emergency situations.

With the changes described above, SSS programs would be modified to serve the contemporary needs of several customers: Department of Defense Department of Homeland Security (FEMA, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, INS), Corporation for National Service, Public Health Service, and other federal and state agencies seeking personnel with critical skills for national security or community service assignments. The SSS would thus play a more vital, relevant, and immediate role in shoring up America’s strength and readiness in peace and war.

# # #

II. Are today’s SSS capabilities in sync with DoD needs?




A. Is there a need to preserve the capability of conducting a draft of untrained Manpower? If so, is the time frame still M+193?

B. How likely is it that DoD will need SSS to conduct a Health Care draft?

C. How severe are any other critical skills shortages in the military?

D. Are the Clinton-era’s abstract reasons for preserving the SSS and peacetime registration still valid?

E. Would DoD still fight nay and all Congressional initiatives to cut or eliminate the SSS?


III. Consider restructuring the SSS to address contemporary national security needs


A. Focus might be on relieving critical skills shortages

B. Include potential service to DHS and other government agencies that must attract/recruit skilled personnel

C. Explore the feasibility of developing a single-point data base of virtually all young Americans, 18 through 34 years old, immediately identifiable by critical skills possessed and practiced. Data base could be used for a draft in war and for recruiting in peacetime.



1. Would require modification of SSS mission and changes to
authorizing law.

2. Cost considerations


IV. Next steps – Statement of Administration Policy needed



A. DoD decides what services it needs and wants from SSS: Three options
for consideration:


1. SSS status quo; however, redefine the DoD mission guidance and time lines to make the SSS more relevant to DoD’s needs and the SECDEF’s policy. The current guidance of providing untrained inductees at M+193 runs counter to the SECDEF’s views and is out-of-sync with possible wartime scenarios.

2. Return the SSS to “Deep Standby” status. If a draft of any kind is highly unlikely and undesirable, eliminate peacetime registration and dismiss the 10,000 trained volunteer Board Members. However, should a draft be needed, it would take more than a year to get the system capable of conducting a fair and equitable draft from Deep Standby status.

3. Restructure the SSS and shift its peacetime focus to accommodate DoD’s most likely requirements in a crisis. Plan for conducting a more likely draft of individual with special and critical skills.


a. Minimum requirement: SSS mission guidance and time lines must be redefined promptly by DoD to allow more relevant pre-mobilization planning and funding for the possibility of a critical skills draft at M+90 or sooner. Peacetime registration of men 18 through 25 would continue, but consideration would also be given to identifying men with certain critical skills among these year-of-birth groupings. A post-mobilization plan would also be devised and computer programming accomplished for a full-blown critical skills draft. The HCPDS program is completed, brought to the forefront of SSS readiness planning, and tested through exercises. Without a reaffirmation of relevance and adjustment of mission, the SSS will be an easy target for reduction or elimination by detractors in the Congress and the Administration.

b. Expanded pre-mobilization requirement. SSS peacetime registration expanded to include women and men, 18 through 34 years old, and collects information on critical skills within these year-of-birth groupings. Requires change of law and additional funding (see Issue Paper dated 11 Feb 2003).


B. If more examination of the issues and options is needed, consider forming an interagency task force to provide the Administration with a policy recommendation. Possible players: DoD, SSS, DHS, NSC, OMB, Corporation for National Service, PHS, others.

C. After suitable analysis, obtain a White House Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) announcing plans for the future of the SSS (course of action 1,2, or 3, above).

D. If the SSS is to expand its pre-mobilization activities to include registration of women and collection of critical skills identifiers, it will be be necessary to market the concept for approval by the Armed Services Committees and Appropriations Committees and draft implementing legislation for congressional consideration. The changes will be implemented after the amended law is signed and funding is identified.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Princess of the Darkness


This is Becky wearing a goofy Packer hat thingy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

another example of how Dems are better people than Repubs

Speaker Elect Pelosi has proposed a severance package for the aides who are losing their jobs as their Republican bosses leave the House. She hopes to give them at least 60 day’s salary so they can make ends meet while they look for employment in the private sector.

That’s a lot more generous than Newt was in 1994 when the shoe was on the other foot. He refused to even consider a severance package for the Democratic aides, when Democratic leaders had pushed hard for a uniform severance package for their committee staffers who had lost their jobs in the Republican revolution.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tony Coker Haiku

In honor of Tony Coker's 50th birthday
I propose a Tony Coker Haiku/Senryu fest


(ahem)


Maniac Dancer
Left His Pants By The River
Laughter Heard for Miles

(ahem)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rock and Roll is Dead (?)

(here's a little rant that some might find interesting. i think it's poorly written and off the mark, but do tell what you think. -- brook)


Rock and Roll Is Dead
"Rock and Roll is dead." So says Robert D. Rayford (sic). You remember him? Scourge of morning talk radio, descending on an unsuspecting sleepy-eyed public long enough to dispense 45 seconds of his half-assed opinion and he's off again until tomorrow. Oh yes, and we're to take his word as gospel because he announced some baseball games 30 years ago. But I digress.

Today he was touting some article (unfortunately we don't have a copy of said article or we'd post it --Ed.) in which the Rolling Stones were held up as pariahs for continuing to make music and tour even though they're in their 50s (actually, Mick is 63 this year -- brook). Specifically they were lambasting Mick's continued lewd behavior and saying this was a symbol of pop music's decline. "Boy, I'll say," Robert announced. "Pop music's horrible. Sure wasn't like back in MY day, the Fifties."

I'll get to that obvious logical fallacy in a moment. First, I'll fully admit that ol' Mick's geriatric gyrations are a bit embarrassing nowadays, unless you get turned on by Depends and the smell of Metamucil, but let's not forget that the Stones have been tired since the 80's. "Start Me Up" was the beginning of the end. I'll be "Dancing in the Street" when they finally retire. I mean you can only beat the riff from "Honky Tonk Woman" into so many songs before people are gonna catch on. But if people want it, who cares? If you're going to blame them for anything, blame them for wanting to continue to make money. They still sell out concerts and sell millions of albums. "Gosh Keith, I've been thinking about it, and people are still paying us millions of dollars to rehash the same act we've had for over 30 years. We're making a fortune to stand around and belt out three chords for two hours every few days. I think we should quit this soft gig and go get jobs at Hardee's."

As for pop music in general, when the hell has it ever been good? I mean something very specific here. Pop music is, by definition, music that is popular. NOT music that's good. "Look at pop music nowadays," you say . Brittany Spears, Ricky Martin, Matchbox 20--yeah, it's fucking godawful, noone's arguing with ya there, pal. "What about the pop music in my day? Wasn't that so much better?" you continue. Well.......hell no it wasn't. When was your day? Five years ago? You had Ace of Base, The Real McCoy, and, well, Matchbox 20. Ten years ago? You had C+C Music Factory and Vanilla Ice. Twenty years? Did you like pina coladas? Well surely thirty years ago? Two words, pinhead: Captain and Tenille.

Do I have a point? Sure. Pop music sucks. It's ALWAYS sucked. It always WILL suck. From the days of Patsy Cline to the current onslaught of this fake Latin nonsense. Rayford of course made the logical fallacy of ascribing value to something merely because it was what HE experienced. Oh, sorry Bob, since that was what YOU had growing up it must have been choice. I'm burning my Screaming Headless Torsoes CDs and buying up some George Jones or whatever the hell you were listening to. Here's a question: who in the history of the freaking world ever grew up saying "man, all this music I'm listening to sucks pipe. I'm just gonna hunker down and wait a generation or two and see what THEY'VE got." No. Why? Because they were all busy screaming their heads off at Deep Purple concerts and Smashing Pumpkins Unplugged. Everyone thinks that the music they grew up listening to is THE music that defined whatever genre. Everyone thinks they're the stars in the movie of the universe, that only what they hold has value. But now I'm starting a different rant.

A note--too many people are going to, because they're idiots, confuse 'pop music' with 'rock and roll'. A simple glance at the radio station listings will tell you this isn't so. So now I get to bitch about rock and roll. It isn't dead, but it's lucky to be treading water right now. There are a finite number of chords in the world, and only a limited number of that to be realistically used in rock, and we've nearly maxed out the Credit Card of Creativity (yes that analogy sucked --Ed.); there's a reason why covers are practically required by law nowadays. But perhaps its sole saving grace is its ability to turn itself into an ideal rather than a style. Rock is, some people will say, just about rebellion, about finding a voice for the young, about spitting at the establishment.

Now personally I think this is bullshit, and just an excuse to justify putting OMC on 99x. Rock is a musical form and nothing else. The ideal of rebellion -is- rebellion. It accepts the current pop music simply because older people don't like it, and any actual merit it has is entirely incidental. (A month after writing this I read Milan Kundera's Immortality, and ran across a better articulation of this in chapter 14 of part 2 --Ed) Rebellion may create music, but music is not rebellion. Screaming naughty words to cover your lack of playing ability is not and will never be rebellion. Throwing molotav cocktails through a courthouse window is rebellion. Driving a truck through a crowded playground is rebellion. Rock never even started as any form of rebellion--it was a marketing ploy that record companies exploited by hiring white boys to play black songs. Rock and roll in the Fifties wasn't anti-establishment at all, it was a product designed to make money by selling records. The melodies were simplistic, the lyrics unchallenging. It was bleached, sanitized, predictable, safe.
Isn't that right, Rayford?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

the New Mile High Club -- coming to an airport near you!




(reality is rendering satire completely fucking useless. here's the latest -- before you board your next flight to visit grandma, you are going to posing NAKED for a TSA rent-a-cop in a "remote location" just to make sure you aren't hiding anything up your hidey hole. feel safer? i do. i think this should be done like on Roller Coasters -- so after you go thru "security" you get to view your pic and buy a copy if you like. "look, honey -- it's Grandma's Rectal Exam from flying the friendly skies last Thanksgiving! -- brook)


XRay Naked Pics for "Officer in Remote Location"



Just when you thought they were creepy enough. Just when they cornered one too many of our wives and daughters into a little screening area to start laying their hands on their bodies in the name of "security," it's not enough. These pseudo-officers, high on their tin soldier power, want to ogle our wives and daughters de-robed and vulnerable.

Phoenix Airport will be the first to test a new screening system that only felons deserve to be subject to. The screening system effectively photographs its subject nude.
According to the article, the images are seen by an "officer in a remote location."

You want some middle-aged man looking at a photograph of your 17-year-old daughter without her clothes on? A middle-aged man in a booth by himself?

This is the most odious proposal by the creepy TSA since September 11. I predict it will cause widespread outrage. I believe this airport might even see a boycott.

The TSA isn't satisfied with anything. They've forced us to buy every liquid we use for our hygiene two times: once in actual size and once in three ounce bottles. They've backed up lines and caused headaches and misery for millions of commuters. They're skeptical of 99-year-olds and six year-olds.

This is excessive and these machines will be abused by perverts hiding behind the curtains. I guarantee that the makers of these machines have a nice little financial deal with some corrupt politician in Washington. We shouldn't stand for this, and the airlines should use their bargaining power to tell these creeps, "No."

We will not have a bunch of Mark Foleys watching our wives and daughters from their private little booths doing whatever it is they are doing in there on our tax dollars.