Is the Internet a Fundamental Right? [Poll]

Engadget has an interesting poll up: is the internet a fundamental right?

Their writeup has some results by country which I found rather fascinating. Hopefully they will analyze their results the same way. In the meantime, go vote.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted March 7th, 2010 Filed in Miscellaneous

TSA Forces Disabled 4yo to Remove Braces and Walk

Your government dollars at work, via Boing Boing: TSA forces travelling policeman to remove his disabled four-year-old son’s leg-braces.

Philadelphia TSA screeners forced the developmentally delayed, four-year-old son of a Camden, PA police officer to remove his leg-braces and wobble through a checkpoint, despite the fact that their procedure calls for such a case to be handled through a swabbing in a private room. When the police officer complained, the supervising TSA screener turned around and walked away. Then a Philadelphia police officer asked what was wrong and “suggested he calm down and enjoy his vacation.”

Who thought it was a good idea to make these people civil servants? Oh yeah. Democrats.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted February 16th, 2010 Filed in Government, Miscellaneous

Why to Do It Right the First Time

Boston’s Big Dig project is famous for cost overruns and poor construction, which led to a ceiling collapse in July 2006 that killed one, injured another and contributed to the death of a third. The cause of the collapse was determined to be “inappropriate use of an epoxy anchor adhesive” which caused 26 tons of concrete and associated suspension hardware to fall.

According to a show on the Discovery channel:

The cost of the epoxy used in the D Street portal construction was $1,287.60. The price tag for redesigning, repairing and inspecting all the tunnels after the ceiling collapse in the D Street connector reached 54 million dollars.

And that is why you do things right the first time. Especially where lives are concerned.

Posted July 20th, 2008 Filed in Miscellaneous


“Polish Anne Frank” is the name being given to Rutka Laskier, a 14-year-old Jewish girl that kept a diary as she was trapped in a Jewish ghetto. The author is believed to have been killed upon arrival at Auschwitz. The 60-page memoir has been kept safe by a friend of the girl and recently turned over.

Mass Holocaust Grave Found in the Ukraine with the remains of thousands of Jews killed in a concentration camp.

Nazi War Criminal Found in Spain. Fredrik Jensen, 93, was a member of the dreaded SS and was awarded the Gold Cross by Hitler himself. After reading passages from Rutka’s diary, I have no pity for him.

Teleportation Record was set by physicists when sending data 89 miles (ten times the previous record) between telescopes on neighboring islands using “spooky” photons. Advancements in this arena won’t result in the “beam me up” technology usually associated with teleportation in the post-Star Trek world, but scientists hope to be able to send sensitive information via satellite using unbreakable “quantum cryptography”. [via Slashdot]

RIAA Takes a Loss in the infamous Atlantic v. Andersen case in which the music industry went after a disabled single mother of a 9-year-old for sharing songs like “Hoes in my Room” over Kazaa, pressing forward in the face of mounting evidence that there was no case to pursue. The RIAA has finally agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning they have completely exonerated Anderson and are open to Andersen’s countersuit which accuses the industry of racketeering, fraud, and deceptive business practices, among other things. [via Digg]

Posted June 5th, 2007 Filed in Miscellaneous

From Tequila to Dyslexia

Tequila Prices to Rise: Blame US Gov.: The artificial demand for ethanol driven by the US government’s wrong-headed solution to dependence on foreign oil is causing Mexican farmers to burn their agave fields so they can plant corn for ethanol production. The agave plant takes eight years to mature. Say goodbye to bargain prices on Patrón (better stock up now!).

American Traitor Returns: American al-Qaeda member Adam Yehiye Gadahn, the first American to be charged with treason since 1952, appeared in a seven-minute video in which he demanded that we leave all Muslim lands or “experience things which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11th, Afghanistan and Iraq and Virginia Tech.”

This is Gadahn’s fifth video appearance on behalf of al-Qaeda. He is one of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists and believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

Screw bin Laden, it’s time we found this guy home-grown terrorist.

Ecoterrorist Gets 3 Years: Speaking of terrorists, Canadian ‘animal rights’ activist Darren Thurston, 37, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for helping the Animal Liberation Front set fire to federal wild horse corrals in Northern California. When are we going to quit coddling terrorists? Should’ve been ten years at a minimum.

Conspiracy Theory: Daniel Pipes reviews a book that offers the intriguing theory that the Six-Day War originated in the Kremlin as a plot to scuttle Israel’s nuclear program. The Jews screwed everything up when they whipped the ass of three Arab nations in just six days. Gotta love ’em!

Bush the Neoliberal: WaPo’s Richard Cohen obviously has not been paying attention; he is just now waking up to Bush’s liberal tendencies.

Global Warming Windfall: A New Zealand farmer has signed a 120-year contract in which he receives $1 million for doing absolutely nothing. He sold his rights to the carbon dioxide on his heavily-vegetated land to a mining company. All he has to do is not cut down trees to run cattle on his land. Anyone want to pay me for not blogging? Anyone?

We are Born to be Generous: Yet another study, this one indicating that being generous “lights up” the same part of the brain that responds to food and sex. That is, we do it because it feels good:

The results are showing many aspects of morality appear to be hard-wired in the brain, opening up a new window on what it means to be good.

‘Addictive’ Semen: Speaking of studies, there was one that found that women who don’t use condoms during sex are less depressed and less likely to attempt suicide than women who have no exposure to semen (either by using condoms or by abstinence). One of the authors of the study also found that women who don’t use condoms get increasingly depressed as more time passes since their last sexcapade, leading him to believe that there may be a chemical dependency to semen.

Reminds me of an Alice Cooper tune:

Man’s got his woman
To take his seed
He’s got the power – oh
She’s got the need

Prof. Says No Such Thing as Dyslexia: An educational psychologist says that after 30 years of research, he can find no evidence that dyslexia is a medical condition and believes that those so diagnosed should be re-classified as having reading difficulty. He says that there is a “huge stigma attached to low intelligence” and that this stigma is avoided when parents get their child diagnosed with a medical condition.

Posted May 29th, 2007 Filed in Miscellaneous

From French Whiners to NY Idiots

French Workers Biggest Whiners: That, according to a study of workplace attitudes around the world. The Irish complained the least (probably still drunk from the previous night’s pub crawl). Also among the “happy workers” were Thai workers (just happy to actually have a job) and the Dutch (I’d be happy too if I had legalized drugs and prostitution).

The Great Skittles Caper: A quarter-million dollars worth of Skittles and the tractor-trailer they were in were stolen. Do you think having so many different color victims will qualify it as a “hate crime”? [Via Digg]

The World’s Dirtiest Cities: Not too many surprises here. Prepare for the Gorebot to object because Bush’s Houston isn’t listed (remember that from the election of 2000?). Then again, neither is Gore’s greenhouse gas generating complex that he calls home.

Japanese Teen Severs Mom’s Head: The 17-year-old carried it into a police station in a sports bag. I guess the pressure of choosing between flowers or chocolate for Mother’s Day was just too much for the boy. [Via Digg]

Disabled Sprinter has Unfair Advantage: That is the claim being examined by the I.A.A.F. (and the Olympic committee) because South African Oscar Pistorius has springy carbon fiber blades instead of feet. This is leading to lots of discussion about cyborgs and the definition of “foot”. Honest.

Man Buys House, Complete with Corpse: A Spanish bank repossessed a house due to six years of missed mortgage payments and auctioned it off without taking the time to go inside. Buyer Jorge Giro purchased the house without bothering to go inside. The result was that when he entered his new home for the first time he found the mummified remains of the previous owner. Gives a whole new meaning to “Buyer Beware.”

Darwin Nods: New York teen Damion Mosher saw a business opportunity: brass shell casings were garnering $1.70 a pound and he just happened to have access to a bunch of .223 bullets. So he set about turning bullets into empty shell casings using a steel vise, a screwdriver and a hammer. Clever, eh?

Predictably, he took a bullet to the abdomen. It was not clear whether or not it was a ricochet, although it only penetrated a half inch and he was treated and released. One can’t help but wonder if the tragedy is the wound or the fact that he will live to reproduce.

Posted May 15th, 2007 Filed in Miscellaneous

News Roundup

Government Guidelines Suck: Those charts that pediatricians and mothers obsess over to determine the “normality” of a baby’s weight are wrong — dangerously so. The most popular chart was produced by the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) 30 years ago, but was based on white, middle-class babies from Ohio raised on high-protein formula milk. This has led to decades of wrongly classifying lean but healthy babies as underweight, millions of mothers overfeeding their babies and setting them on the path to obesity.

Another billion for Katrina: the Bush administration has extended government-subsidized housing for 120,000 ‘evacuees’ until March 2008. Then they will have to pay $50 a month for the housing, with the price going up another $50 each month that they stay.

Huckabee’s son arrested: David Huckabee packed a loaded Glock and tried to carry it through airport security.

$4,200 snails: A rare snail was discovered on a ridgeline where a New Zealand mining company was trying to dig for coal. As it was believed that only 500 to 1,000 snails existed, the company decided to pay for the cost to relocate, monitor and protect the molluscs. After 19 months, 5300 snails have been found (and relocated) and between production loses and snail expenses, the company is out $22.4 million (or a little over $4,226 per snail).

Note that these are in a species that includes large carnivorous snails. Who the hell wants to save carnivorous snails?

Missile defense victory: The program to develop a missile defense shield scores another victory: the Navy’s Aegis system successfully and simultaneously destroyed a cruise missile and a short-range ballistic missile during a test.

Oregon Senate bans confining pregnant pigs: Really.

Posted April 26th, 2007 Filed in Miscellaneous

Bits Here ‘n There

The Supreme Court signaled that it may revisit McCain-Feingold, perhaps gutting it when it does. Too bad this won’t happen in time to affect McCain’s run at the presidency.

Holy crap, Hillary’s getting desperate! She actually admitted that it might be necessary to take on Iran . . . militarily.

Moderate Muslims are trying to take a stand against Islamofacism, but tax-break PBS won’t give them air time:

“Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center” highlights the work of moderate Muslims who oppose the Islamist agenda and are willing to speak out. PBS officials decided against airing the film, which PBS’s Robert MacNeil told the Diane Rehm Show earlier this month was “one-sided” and “alarmist.”

Some of the key Muslim figures featured in the documentary believe PBS is practicing censorship and doing a disservice to the American public. The film, which was supposed to be part of a PBS series, cost taxpayers more than $600,000.

A police officer is assaulted once every 20 minutes in Britain.

Since 2002, there have been 127,000 assaults on police officers in England, Scotland and Wales. This is equivalent to five out of every six officers being assaulted at least once in the last five years.

Here’s a scientific advancement for you: there is now a mathematical formula to predict how the head on a glass of beer changes over time.

Posted April 26th, 2007 Filed in Miscellaneous

Sitting Hummingbird


You don’t usually see these guys sitting around, but this baby hummingbird likes to rest on a Ficus tree after drinking from one of our hummingbird feeders.

Posted August 21st, 2006 Filed in Miscellaneous

Early morning roundup

Today’s must read: Jonah Goldberg makes the case for extremism.

Today’s other must read: Wounded Iraq veteran: ‘I’d go back in a heartbeat’. A touching story that highlights the high cost paid by our soldiers; severe wounds are life-changing events.

Semper Fi:

Despite four years of tough combat deployments, the U.S. Marine Corps has retained a higher percentage of top recruits.

The Center for Naval Analyses in April analyzed the Marines’ first term re-enlistment population and determined that the quality has continually improved over the last six years, with more first tier recruits remaining in the Marine Corps than drop out after four years.

Return of the Gorebot: Al Gore is reving up the rhetoric, perhaps for a presidential run, but if he does run he is alienating the center by calling the current administration “a renegade band of rightwing extremists”.

Today’s Understatement: A Washington Times op-ed talks about China’s involvement in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, as it “[pursues] raw materials and natural resources, particularly energy resources, with a narrow-minded mercantilist drive.” Money quote:

Given China’s established pattern of military development discordant with its stated goal of a peaceful rise in the world, Washington needs to scrutinize both China’s ambitions and its tactics.

Homeland Defense: A security guard was so absorbed with his hand held video game (a “mind-stimulating activity” allowed under the rules) that he failed to see an inspector approach during a surprise inspection. Repeatedly. I feel so safe.

France: There’s rioting again in the suburbs of Paris, only this time the kids are wearing masks and carrying baseball bats.

Iraq: The Brits say that foreign terrorists, led by fighters from Saudi Arabia, are the reason for an upsurge in attacks against their troops in Basra.

Iran: Having watched the “insurgency” in Iraq, Iran is preparing for a US invasion by war gaming “irregular warfare carried out by highly mobile army units”. Ironically, they are also trying to develop techniques to quell insurgencies due to “ethnic unrest” and “foreign influence”.

Pedophiles in Holland are establishing their own political party in order to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and legalize possession (but not distribution) of child pornography. Oh yeah, and sex with animals should be allowed everybody should be able to go naked in public.

South America: Venezuela is spending billions on helicopters, boats and military transport planes in an effort to modernize its military. Meanwhile, Bolivian opposition leaders believe that “Venezuela is sending arms and military personnel to organize a special militia for the ruling Movement to Socialism (MAS).” On the other hand:

Leftist President Evo Morales said Tuesday the U.S. government had organized groups to kill him and said he believed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s assertion that Washington was preparing to overthrow his administration.


Human Rights Group Amnesty International released satellite images today showing the obliteration of a large community during last year’s settlement clearances in Zimbabwe that made some 700,000 people homeless.

Science: Some scientists have long believed that there is a fourth spatial dimension, but a new study suggests that hidden dimensions could create thousands of mini-black holes within our own solar system. They hope to go looking within a few years using a satillite that NASA will launch next year.

Posted May 31st, 2006 Filed in Miscellaneous