Sunday, January 29, 2006

Google Troubles

Googles been getting a lot of heat lately. The map fiasco , was the sign of things to come. They are under pressure to give up some data, a weeks worth of search information and a million IP addresses to the US government. They scored some points in deciding to give the government a fight. What makes the governments case particularly weak is that it sounds to me thatthey are looking for data to support some particular legislation, not as a part of any specific criminal activity.

``It's our obligation to use the law to the farthest possible means to protect our users' privacy,'' Brin said in an interview yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ``It's just a legal and ethical principle.''

Mountain View, California-based Google, the world's most-used Internet search engine, is fighting a Justice Department lawsuit after rejecting a request for samples of search queries from consumers. The government said it needed the data as part of an effort to counter challenges to Internet pornography legislation.

``I don't think we like the precedent of it, and so we're fighting it,'' Brin, 32, said. ``I think we're right.''

I think they are also. Yahoo and Microsoft already rolled over.
Google is defending data that Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have turned over, at least in part. The suit, filed Jan. 18 in federal court in San Jose, California, exacerbated concerns about consumer privacy and the Internet and helped prompt the biggest-ever one-day decline in Google's shares. The Justice Department is seeking one week's worth of Web searches and 1 million addresses in Google's database.
Well in this one they are the good guys, but all the only thing they are risking in this is the legal costs, and they are gaining an image as the champion of privacy. Next thing you know the censoring Chicom search engine fiasco.

The new local Google site, expected to be launched Wednesday at Google.cn, will include notes at the bottom of results pages that disclose when content has been removed, said Andrew McLaughlin, senior policy counsel for Google.

"Google.cn will comply with local Chinese laws and regulations," he said in a statement. "In deciding how best to approach the Chinese--or any--market, we must balance our commitments to satisfy the interest of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions."

Google will not initially offer Gmail or Blogger in China until executives feel they can strike that balance adequately, McLaughlin said.

Web surfers in China have had difficulty accessing the Google service, reporting frustratingly slow connections and time-outs, Google said. Human rights groups have accused China's government of blocking access to Web sites that do not adhere to the government's restrictions.

The free world is disapointed. Yet if we look at it rationally Google as a company beholden to its stockholders had to make a decision. Would their refusal have made life any better for the Chinese people, I think most folk would agree that Microsoft and Yahoo! would have agreed to the restrictions pretty easily, and they wouldn't have even got as much critisism. My hope is that there was some deal to loosen the Great Firewall of China on Google.com. If such an agreement wan't made Google will be in a better position to pressure and negotiate loosening it up at least to the google.com domain.

Some bloggers have decided to boycott Google , the Google ad program in particular. While some of those pulling ads are running Google Blogger. The censorship and human rights problems in Red Communist China are deeper than the Google issue. What really should be done is closing all relationships with China with a complete embargo. Google actions may be a dissapointment, but the United States Government giving China the "most favored nation" status as a trading partner is outragous.

OpenOffice.org

I blogged earlier about my first impressions of Open Office. I was pretty impressed, but I had not used it enough to give it a proper review. I still haven't used it enough to be intimitely familiar with it, but I understand the its strengths and even its weakneses a little better. I like the program even more than I did initially.

One of the painful things I found was that the calc program help files seemed inoperational. Although calc is pretty intuitional it was a bug, I needed to resolve. The OpenOffice.org web site is poorly orgnazed and I couldn't find any help with my help problem. Fortunatly Google was much more helpful. The problem was it had 4 files that need to be replaced in the help section, and within a few minutes I was copying files and had my fuly functional help system.

The next annoyining thing I found was the lack of documentation. No users manual. Well I found some pretty good ones at the OpenOffice.org site. Ok what about support? There are a couple of forums out there that are pretty decent, but I found the users@0pen0ffice.org mail list very useful, Its a very heavy list and I found that using the newsgroup option very handy. So now I have Help, Manuals, and support. And it very good quality.

Its more than a "It's not Microsoft" thing, I really like it more than Office. Its more intuitive, and has better free documentation. Now I'm not a heavy duty user, but creating Templates, making a chart from some statistics was a snap. There are just a ton of things which seem so easy to do, like importing and exporting my Outlook address book. It even supports Avery Labels, so I was able to quickly make up some business cards for my campaign.

Although I'm aware of some limitations importing macros and such, I haven't run into any that are actually limit me yet. It seems more intuitive to do things that I haven't done before than MS Office. Probably the thing I'll use the MS product for if I'm required to create templates that someone else needs to work on.

I still have a lot to learn. I need to familiarize myself with Base the database program, and I would like to learn more of the Calc program, but its a pretty slick package, not just by open source standards, but by comercial software standards.

Opensource might become the world standard for many users. It is finding popularity in other countrys faster than it is in the U.S. Because the output files are also an open standard, other programs can be written to access files that can accessible by OpenOffice. As Word replaced, Wordperfect and Excell replaced QuatroPro/Lotus. Office just might be the application to topple Microsoft as the Business software leader, it is that good.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Some Responses to the Mexican Invasion

Mexico suggests U.S. military was behind border incident

In a bizarre twist to an already strange story, Mexico'’s Foreign Secretary suggested Thursday the men in Mexican military uniforms who were involved in a face-off with Texas law enforcement officials along the Rio Grande may actually have been U.S. soldiers.

The comments by Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez came one day after U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza asked the Mexican government to "fully investigate" Monday's border incident.

Derbez said Garza's comments were out of line.

Well at least Tony Garza is asking some questions, even if the Mexicas response was ridiculous. It looks like the incident got the attention of the two Texas Senators.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas said Thursday he plans to hold hearings on border incursion incidents and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, sent a letter Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting a full investigation into a face-off.

“I do believe that any intrusion into American soil needs to be investigated, “ Cornyn said.

“Certainly the appearance of people wearing uniforms assisting drug dealers intruding into our borders is something that we ought to be very concerned about and that I am very concerned about,” he said.

Hutchison first called for an investigation Wednesday, saying she was “deeply concerned over this latest incident on the border.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison also posted a lettet to Michael Chertoff head of Homeland Security.

January 26, 2006

The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

On Monday, January 23, 2006, Texas law enforcement officers encountered suspected drug smugglers who were dressed as Mexican Army soldiers on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande near Nelly’s Crossing, about 50 miles east of El Paso, TX. Of the three vehicles involved, one was abandoned, one was stuck in the Rio Grande and set ablaze, and the third escaped. The abandoned vehicle, a Cadillac Escalade that had been reported stolen from El Paso, was said to have contained 1,477 pounds of marijuana. Dressed in camouflage uniforms, the suspects appeared to be Mexican Army personnel with several mounted .50 caliber machine guns more than 200 yards inside the U.S. border.

I am deeply concerned over this incident as well as similar reported occurrences along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Homeland Security reports, Mexican military units or imposters have crossed into U.S. territory 216 times since 1996. On December 30, 2005, U.S. Border Patrol Agents near Brownsville, TX, received gunfire from the Mexican side of the border; and in November the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Department reported confronting more than six men dressed in Mexican military uniforms who were allegedly trying to bring in more than three tons of marijuana across the Rio Grande River. These incidents are of great alarm to our national security and must be addressed.

I request a full investigation into this latest matter, as well as the other incidents of suspected Mexican soldiers on U.S. soil, and report to Congress the details and confirmation of whether or not Mexican military officials have been involved in these cases. I also request you provide Congress a report with statistics on the frequency, amount, and volume of drugs crossing our northern and southern borders each day. Moreover, I urge a thorough analysis on what preventative measures should be addressed by Congress in securing our nation’s borders from suspected drug smugglers and terrorists, including a report on the effectiveness of virtual and physical fencing.

Make no mistake – this is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Even after 9/11, our nation’s borders remain porous. We must take bold action in securing our borders, and I look forward to working with you on this matter to ensure the safety of our nation.

Sincerely,
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Lair also expected more more of a reaction.

I have said in the past that if the United States were attacked by Mexico like Israel is attacked by the Qassam-launching scumbags in Gaza, the United States' response would be swift and massive.

Well, based on the pathetic non-response by the United States to the incursion invasion of heavily-armed Mexican military forces accompanying drug smugglers in direct violation of American sovereignty, I guess I need to take all that back.

Welcome to America: Walk all over us.

And Michelle Malkin is keeping us posted about this story.

Non-prescription Inhalers Threatened

Greg notes that the enviromental threat of those little inhalers might be enough cause for the FDA to ban them.

The FDA will never let logic or reason get in the way of political correctness.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Perry and Bush Avoiding Constitutional Duties.

I wouldn't be as annoyed by the lack of attention given by our leaders if they were Democrats. I've never had great expectatations of them. Both GWB and Governor Perry have turned into Democrats. Don't they realize we are being invaded? They have not acknowledged the issue. By doing so they would acknowledge they would be required to act by the Texas and United States constitutions.

In describing the duties of Governor Article 4 Section 7

He shall be Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the State, except when they are called into actual service of the United States. He shall have power to call forth the militia to execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions. (Amended Nov. 2, 1999.)


The United States Constitution. Article. IV. Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
By ignoring the action by the Mexican government our President and our Governor are derilict in their dutys.

Now I'm a simple man, and not a constitutional expert, and I'm certainly not a f*&$'n lawyer, but it all seems pretty clear to me,

Houston's New Soccer Team gets a Name

It's Houston 1836. Chuck seems to like it as does Rob although Lawrence seems unimpressed I don't know but isn't Major League Soccer is a contridiction of terms. I'm just waiting to find out how the taxpayers are going to screwed on this by bankolling a stadium. Details later, I'm sure.

Google Sells out Freedom

Google the company who promise the world with the motto "don't do evil", has forgotten what those words really mean. They made Taiwan a Province of China. in October, and they appear to bend to every whim for the Chinese dictators. Michelle Malkin thinks maybe they should change their name . Google is now ready willing and able to censor and protect the Chinese people from the evils of democracy, freedom, and oh, yeah porn too.
Web search leader Google Inc. said on Tuesday it was introducing a new service for China that seeks to avoid a confrontation with the government by restricting access to services to which users contribute such as e-mail, chat rooms and blogs.

The new Chinese service at http://www.google.cn will offer a censored version of Google's popular search system that could restrict access to thousands of terms and Web sites.

Hot topics might include issues like independence for Taiwan or Tibet or outlawed spiritual group Falun Gong.

In seeking to compete more aggressively in the world's second biggest Internet market -- where Google has lost ground to a more popular home-grown search company Baidu Inc. -- the company is facing the toughest challenge yet to its corporate mantra of "Don't do evil."

In a compromise that trades off Google's desire to provide universal access to information in order to exist within local laws, Google will not offer its Gmail e-mail service, Web log publishing services or chat rooms -- tools of self-expression that could be used for political or social protest.

Instead, it said it would initially offer four of its core services -- Web site and image search, Google News and local search -- while working toward introducing additional services over time.

Although they agree to cooperate with the Chicoms, they are giving the U.S goverment a good fight, as Publius Pundit has noticed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mexican Army Stands off Law Officers in Texas

In an apparent standoff Texas law enforcement officers were involved with Mexican military forces in a standoff. The Mexicans in military dress set up an automatic weapon 200 yards on our side of the border.

Chief Deputy Mike Doyal of the Hudspeth County Sheriff'’s Department said that Mexican army personnel had several mounted machine guns on the ground more than 200 yards inside the U.S. border, the Daily Bulletin newspaper reported earlier.

"It's been so bred into everyone not to start an international incident with Mexico that it's been going on for years,"” Doyal said. "“When you're up against mounted machine guns, what can you do? Who wants to pull the trigger first? Certainly not us."

Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, whose officers were involved in a similar incident last year, said he is certain that Mexican authorities know who was involved.

I can't say that I can blame them for not wanting to engage them, A deputy is typically armed with a sidearm and maybe a shotgun and a Taser Aparrently the e 2 SUV's were loaded with marijuana and the Mexican authorities were assisting them getting back to the border and guarding them as they unloaded their pot.

U.S. officials who pursued three fleeing SUVs to the Mexican border saw what appeared to be a Mexican military Humvee help one of the SUVs when it got stuck in the river, he said.

When that didn't work, a group of men dressed in civilian clothes started unloading what appeared to be bundles of marijuana from the SUV, and the stuck vehicle was then torched, he said. A second SUV had a flat tire and was left behind in the United States and its occupant ran across the border, he said.

Glancey said he could not confirm whether the armed men seen at the site were Mexican Army, police officers, or drug dealers, and would not detail what markings deputies may have seen on the men’s uniforms or the Humvee.

Now this isn't the first incident. Last november there was a simular incident involving Hudspeth County Sheriffs Department. One involving a dumptruck 3 tons of marijuana and an armed confrontatation with Mexican authorities last November. Nonetheless Homeland security seems lacksidaiscal about the incursions. Emphasis mine.

Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, whose officers were involved in a similar incident last year, said he is certain that Mexican authorities know who was involved.

After the newspaper reported on Mexican military crossings earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the report was overblown and most of the incursions were just mistakes.

In eastern California, Arizona and New Mexico, the U.S.-Mexico border is largely unmarked. But in Texas, the Rio Grande separates the two countries and even when dry, is a riverbed about 200 feet wide.

In November, Doyal said Border Patrol agents in the border town of Fort Hancock called for help after confronting more than six men dressed in Mexican military uniforms. The men allegedly were trying to bring more than three tons of marijuana across the Rio Grande, Doyal told the newspaper.


Yea Right! Shades of Pancho Villa. Homeland security, Governor Perry, and President Bush don't seem to be willing to do anything about armed incursions into this country. Seems like some one in our gorvernment should be willing to protect our borders besides the Sheriffs and Deputies of Hudspeth County. If arming them with machineguns and RPGs is what it takes, then "get `er done".
Update: Michelle Malkin has more. and Rhymes with Right has a say in this

Monday, January 23, 2006

Open Office

I've been using Microsoft Office pretty reluctantly. The IT folks insisted I have it in the day job, and I never thought it was the best. Unfortunatly it became the standard throughout the business community. I not only needed Office to pass documents back and forth to my workmates, but to my customers and venders. I also needed the right version. It became the standard and I must admit, although begrudgingly, its not bad software although very expencive. Word has always seemed pretty powerful and easy to use. Excel always seemed silly to me Excell and Quatro Pro was a lot more natural, but the adition of macros makes it unparralelled in power these days. Access was a good way to make a database but one had better keep a copy backed up. Bundling these guys put the once market leaders of Wordperfect, Quatro Pro and Dbase almost out of bussiness.
Today there is a challenger. Its good, intuitive and plays well with the standard. The challenger is called OpenOffice.org. Yeah, it's spelled out just like a domain name. I use Office 2000 Pro here and Office XP Proat work. Lets say I wouldn't buy it for home its just too expencive. Its recycled, I'm using the old licence from an older install on my work computer. I haven't used Open Office much yet, but it looks to me as though it could replace Microsoft Office for many people.

OPenOffice does have some limmitations. Macro's aren't as powerful. there just aren't as many functions developed for it yet. and of course Microsoft Macros aren't compatable with OpenOffice. Online documatation is good where you can find it, but it is scattered all over the place. Still it can read and write Office Documents, in fact it has built in Acrobat PDF creation. This is full fledge professional software and can easily replace MS Office for most people. especially for at home use.
I can't give it a complete review because I haven't had it more than a couple of days. and it would take me weeks to put it completely through its paces. It does't contain Outlook, but then again there is Thunderbird. The parts it does contain.
  • Calc SpreadSheet
  • Write Wordprocesser
  • Draw A Picture editing program .. Not Gimp by any means.
  • Impress Can create Powerpoint type presentation slides.
  • Base Database uses MySQL i believe.
  • Math A Mathmatical Formula thingy
These run on many platforms and many laguages are supported, and thus is what might make it the next standard. The same program can run in on Albanian Mac as well as Chinese Sun Workstation. and its all free. As Doug Thompson from the user list explains:

You may use it in your cafe.
You may use it sipping lattè.
You may use it eating buffet.
You may use it in the shower
(But beware electric power).
You may dissect and fricassee it,
But you needn't ever pay. It
Is absolutely free
To be used by you and me
And he and she, even them, and we
Ask only that you tell us
When the program is rebellious
So the coders and designers
Can make it work just right.
I don't think it's much to ask.
It's quite a simple task:
Just log on to Issue Zilla
And then commence to fill a
Form explaining what you found.

OpenOffice may be got at www.openoffice.org

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bolivar Bridge Raises its Ugly Head Again

I thought it was a dead issue. The Harris County Toll Authority dropped the topic. I don't know why they should be building bridges in Galveston County anyway. Let them keep shafting the poor people in Harris County, but they have no business screwing charging the people in Galveston. The have a front page article about it on the Galveston Daily News Explaining "The Texas Department of Transportation is stepping up plans to design a new bridge connecting Galveston Island with the Bolivar Peninsula." There aren't any plans on how they plan on paying for it, but I bet tolls have something to do with it. A bridge might sound like a good Idea at first until one thinks it out a little bit.

The ferry is free to commuters and it cost about 12 Million a year to run it. A result of this is that the ferry is tourist attraction.
The state at one point set the preliminary cost of the bridge at $240 million, but that number was based on a clearance of 220 feet, not the 300 feet the Port of Houston has since said it wants as a minimum.

That's a 20 year payoff at the 220 foot clearance and concidering the bridge wouldn't start construction for another 2 years at least inflationary prices would raise it even more. One of the plans that was concidered by the Houston Toll Road Authority was to build the bridge from the end of the Texas City Dike. Which wouldn't result in much times for emergency vehicles. The nearest Trauma center is UTMB Medical Center in Galveston. If they would like to reduce the cost of the ferry, perhaps they should concider a $1.00 or $2.00 toll. Naww that makes too much sense. I heard they started charging at San Louis Pass Bridge again. $2.00 each way and I bet they barely pay the cost of the toll collectors salarys.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Judge Bradshaw-Hull Screws Landowner

Via Rhymes with Right. Judge Bradshaw awards this guy 1 dollar for 105 acres so that Houston Port Authority can can port more ships, then makes him pay all the court cost with interest. It looks like outright thievery to me. Something smells, and the odor seems to be comming from the Judges chambers. None of the larger MSM outlets seem to be intrested in this story. But the Citizen picked up on it.

Seureau fought for nearly three years to protect his property, in his family for more than 150 years, from the Port's power of eminent domain, only to lose his case in May of last year in the court of Harris County Civil Court Judge Lynn Bradshaw-Hull.
The judge ruled that having paid Seureau $1, the Port now owns the fee simple title to the property. Seureau was also ordered to give back the Port's previous payment of more than $1.9 million at 5.75 percent interest and pay the Port's court costs at the same interest rate.
Seureau has appealed the ruling, and he and his attorneys are currently in negotiations with the Port. Port officials declined to comment on the case, but confirmed that they are working with Seureau to reach an agreement.
The judge is up for re-election. I wonder what how the money is being routed to her. It also makes me feel better about forcing the Port Authority out of Galveston. She is one Republican that needs to lose. These aren't nice people. This is a ever growing, and very powerful agency with lots of money and absolutely no accountability.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Second Hand Smoke

Twice this week on the way to work I heard on the Radio a public service announcement claiming that secondhand second Hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death. My Bullshit detector went off.

Smoking can be pretty detrimental to ones health, and the hazards to ones health are pretty solidly documented. Its also a fact that second hand smoke can cause health problems to asmatics, and those who allergic to it. There is no doubt that it bothers a lot of people. Burning eyes and sore throat are common. I am not crazy about cigarette smoke, and I smoke cigars. But the third most common cause of preventable deaths? What about aids, or violence, or even High blood pressure related deaths. It doesn't make sense. The first two causes of preventable death are smoking, and alcohol.

The break down is 3000 get cancer 53000 coronary and 2000 SIDs. Although I haven't looked up the sudden infant death research, the cancer and heart releated figures are definatly suspect. Dave Hitt has a good explaination on how the cancer figures had been achieved by the EPA, and how the study has been discredited, in particular by a WHO study. While Junk Science explains the holes in the the study that came up with the 50,000 coronary disease deaths.

Secondhand smoke may be a killer, its just that these figures are such a distortion that it's hard to believe anything that comes from the antismoking lobby. I was curious though, about how much some of the smokers where I work contribute to a hazzardous second handsmoke environment. I know I smoke almost exclusively outdoors. All 10 that I was able to ask claimed they never smoked in their homes. and they don't smoke inside at work. This is Texas, and I suspect that this isn't as true in the colder more unpleasant climates. I just found it intresting that these people weren't contributing much to second hand smoke health issues.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Campaign

My plan was not to accept any campaign money, and purchasing maybe a few signs, buttons and maybe some webspace. I thought as long as I don't accept any donations, then I wouldn't to worry about all the paperwork. Wrong! It seems that I have to file all kind of forms even though I am am spending only my own money, and not a whole lot of that. I even need to have a treasurer. Although I'm not sure why. According to "Form CTA - Instruction Guide":

DUTIES OF A CAMPAIGN TREASURER. State law does not impose any obligations on a candidate's campaign treasurer.


Thats right. I have to have one, even though they don't have to do anything. They don't even have to sign the form.

Now I want all of this to be above board, I've already run into a problem. I am not allowed to spend any money until I have filed a treasurer with the ethics board in Austin. I did spend a couple dollars getting my filing form notorized on New Years Day. It looks like Catch 22 to me, I needed to get the Notorized form out, but before I became a candidate I was supposed have a treasurer that doesn't do anything. So I can spend my own money. WTF! All of this is supposed to be about ethics. If it really was about ethics the lawyers that write these things would make it simpler for those who don't want to accept campaign funds.

I posted my own little political ad on this blog today. I will probably change the text a few times and am trying to think of some good slogans.

Note to ethics board. It cost me nothing.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bipartisan Cheering


I don't delve much into intercollegiate sports, but there has been a lot of excitement for University of Texas football this year.They crowned the zero loss season with a victory over USC at the Rosebowl, as you can see the UT team was so good and exciting this year that even this USC Cheerleader couldn't help but cheer, for UT as they scored the winning touchdown.

Bloggers Appeal

The Truth Laid Bear has been at the forefront of the Pork Buster Campain. and has come come out with the following statement in which many Bloggers have signed on, including myself.
An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers

We are bloggers with boatloads of opinions, and none of us come close to agreeing with any other one of us all of the time. But we do agree on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.


Signed,

N.Z. Bear, The Truth Laid Bear
Hugh Hewitt, HughHewitt.com
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang!
La Shawn Barber, La Shawn Barber's Corner
Lorie Byrd / DJ Drummond , Polipundit
Beth Cleaver, MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Jeff Goldstein, Protein Wisdom
Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
John Hinderaker, Power Line
Jon Henke / McQ / Dale Franks, QandO
James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
Mike Krempasky, Redstate.org
Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com
Ed Morrissey, Captain's Quarters
Scott Ott, Scrappleface
The Anchoress, The Anchoress
John Donovan / Bill Tuttle, Castle Argghhh!!!

Whole Foods switching to all wind power in U.S.

Whole foods announced That they are switching to all wind power in U.S.

The deal makes Whole Foods the biggest corporate user of wind power in the country.

Whole Foods will buy 458,000 megawatt-hours of the wind energy credits from Boulder, Colo.-based Renewable Choice Energy Inc. Neither company revealed the dollar value of the two-year contract.

"Right now, the main benefit is public relations," said Andrew Aulisi, senior associate at the nonprofit World Resources Institute. "For a company like Whole Foods, which has a particular kind of clientele, I can imagine this is an important way they relate to their customers."

Unlike slapping solar panels on a roof, buying green power credits does not mean that wind-generated electricity will power all Whole Foods' stores. Rather, the amount spent on the credits will pump more wind energy into the electric grid overall, reducing the amount of coal and natural gas used nationally.

"It's as if a city has been rendered green powered because of this (purchase) by Whole Foods," said Kurt Johnson, Green Power Partnership director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Whole Foods had been using green power to support about 20 percent of its operations before the purchase.
Now I'm all for windpower ,its a great thing, but I don't understand how this all works. Lets see if I understand this right.

  1. We get our electricity off something called a grid.
  2. All the electric plants put the power on this same grid.
  3. We don't really know where each individual Watt we use originates.
  4. Wind turbines put all the electricity they make onto the grid. Wind farms generate all the power they can, and bill the grid for all the elelectricity they generate.
  5. Companys like Green Mountain Energy charge about a $0.10 premium on every Kilowatt. Its all about Being enironmentaly friendly.
Affordable energy is a good idea, and many people might think its a good idea to perhaps pay a little more more for it. Its just that unlesss one actually generates the power that they actually use. A company that tells you that that the electricity they are selling you is somehow greener than what you are buying now sounds fraudulant to me. A company that sells organic and environmentally better food, that buys into this scheme is easily suckered in. How can one believe that the food that they buy is any different than anywhere else. Perhaps their grocerys as well as their foodstuffs are just more expencive.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

To Kill a Mocking bird

Rand Simberg thinksThere is a mockingbird in the gunsights, I think he might be right. Cory Mayes' public defender was being pressured to lay off the case, and now he is fired for continuing to represent his client.

As I've mentioned before, Cory Maye's lawyer on appeal is Bob Evans, who also happens to be the public defender for Jefferson Davis County. For ten years, Evans has also served as the public defender for the town of Prentiss, the seat of Jefferson Davis County.

It now appears that the Prentiss Board of Aldermen have fired Evans as the Prentiss public defender. His transgression? Representing Cory Maye. Evans told me last month that he'd been warned that if he agreed to take this case, he could well be fired. Looks like whoever warned him was correct.

With his permission, here's the email Evans sent to me this morning

Evans sent Radley Balko an email explaining the events.

Just found out this a.m. that the Town of Prentiss has "decided to go another route" pertaining to my position as town public defender. In other words, they have now made official what was intimated to me back in December and have fired me.

The explicit and sole reason given to me by the mayor was that my representation of Cory Maye was not to the liking of the aldermen. I guess it wasn't to the mayor's liking either since, to the best of my knowledge, he didn't veto their decision. Of course, I have no doubt that it's a politically popular decision among the Caucasians of Prentiss. But what in life is not, at least to some extent, political?

When apprised that this move was being contemplated, although I doubted that it would make any difference I requested the courtesy of being allowed to appear before the board to express my reasons for representing Cory. They did not deign to grant me this opportunity.

I have been Prentiss public defender officially (salaried) since February 1995 and unofficially for several years prior. During that time not one official complaint has been communicated to me about my performance. Of course, there have been many unofficial complaints about me "getting all those guilty people off."
Shades of Atticus

Lone Star Carnival

Greg proposes A Lone Star Carnival. Its an idea way overdue.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mark The Date And Time

Greg has something nice to say about Bill Clinton. I think he has a point.

Trying to Understand

A friend, whom I'll call Joe told me about this lady who is pretty active in Chambers County Republican Party politics. The only problem is that my friend told me that she could never vote for a Libertarian, "Even Democrats are better than no Government at all". I was a little
flabbergasted. This was to be my base. I have been thinking, without a Republican candidate in the race, "surely most Republicans will vote for me". I asked Joe to introduce her to me.

A couple of days later Joe tells me he has Ms. B. on the line. I asked him if I could talk to her.

Ms. B. was gracious, and straightforward with me. She made it pretty clear she wasn't going to try to pull any punches. I asked her "Why couldn't you vote for a Libertarian?"

She answered, "How do I know that you wouldn't be worse than a Democrat?"

I fired off "I couldn't do any worse. Has Eiland done anything for Chambers County? Has he Represented your views in the State House?"

Ms B. tells me,"I don't know. What are your positions?"

I Say, "Probably not much different than yours. Conservative, Small government and lower taxes. Sorta like Ron Paul. He is still very Libertarian even if he runs under the Republican Party. What do you think of Ron Paul and his politics."

"I've met him and I think pretty highly of him"

Now I'm getting frustrated, This lady is very representative of what I perceive as my voter base.

She asked me for a position paper. I haven't written one yet. and don't know if I will. Commiting to lower property taxes seems like a good idea, but I could not sign onto a deal that includes a large increase in statewide taxes. I am torn between unrestrained property taxes and taking power away from local governments who were elected to represent their people. I do believe in local governments should have their own self determination.

The most Republicans feel that their state government has let them down. The Republicans have been in charge, for several years now, yet things haven't gotten any better. Maybe just maybe if a few Libertarians, other third party types, and independants got in. The Republicans in charge would pay a little closer attention to their constituancy.

Maybe someone can explain to me why Republican faithful would be so afraid of a Libertarian when no Republican could bother to run.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Another Report of Bin ladens Demise

No one has heard from him in months, although not the first there is another dead Bin Laden report. I don't know who Michael Ledeen is, but he seems to believe Bin Laden is dead and burried somewhere in Iran.

And, according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this
world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried
in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda
in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year's message in
conjunction with the Muslim Haj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for
the first time.


If this is true, we might never know with certainty, the Iranians certainly aren't going to cooperate with verification.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

About Abramoff

The New York Times has an article by Ana Marie Cox or otherwise known as Wonkette. That puts the Abramoff scandel in perspective.

Until Tuesday, Mr. Abramoff's elaborate web of corruption was an inside-the-Beltway story: we were the only ones with the patience for it. But nothing simplifies a scandal like a guilty plea. Now, the queasily intricate dance of payoffs, favors and influence-peddling that seems to implicate people from the White House on down has the nation on edge.

Yet despite predictions that Mr. Abramoff's deal is the beginning and not the end of the story, it's difficult to see if this one will end with the satisfying clink of handcuffs.

True, we are told, repeatedly, that the case has half of Washington's powerbrokers looking over their shoulder and the other half salivating for a parade of perp walks. And in Washington, a high body count gets everyone's attention (except maybe the president's). Mr. Abramoff's connections seem infinite; attempts to follow the money give you something looking less like a flow chart than like spaghetti. Delicious, felonious spaghetti.

But who is actually going to receive Jack Abramoff's Lady-and-the-Tramp-style kiss of death? The only plausible candidate at the moment is Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican who appears to be a rather ham-fisted bungler. Mr. Abramoff had dealings with dozens of Washington bigwigs, yet Representative Ney is the only one to make a (pseudonymous) appearance in the indictment.

What Mr. Ney did was either very bad or very stupid, likely both. But he hardly needed Mr. Abramoff to besmirch his reputation: he has recently drawn scrutiny for the unlikely feat of winning $34,000 on an initial $100 bet during a London casino romp, and on another junket he met with a convicted con artist whom MSNBC reported had "cheated on his taxes and was involved in a deal to swindle Elvis Presley." Mr. Ney refused to discuss these issues with the press because of "national security implications." Well, Richard Nixon did give Elvis a federal drug agent's badge.

Despite the desperate glee of the editorializers and the almost-as-desperate rinsing of Abramoff funds from Republican coffers, the smell in the air is panic, not blood. In order to cast their net beyond Diamond Bob Ney, the feds would have to, as one Republican source told the Times, "pursue a different definition of bribery" - that is, prove that "if somebody were to give a gift or a campaign contribution in the same time period as a member took an official action, that in and of itself would constitute bribery." And you thought Patrick Fitzgerald was criminalizing politics.

Sad to admit it, but most of what Jack Abramoff did with politicians (as opposed to his outright fraud with Indian tribes) wasn't criminal so much as extreme. The Hollywood arc would have a chain-gang of Congressmen breaking rocks by the final reel, but we are unlikely to get such satisfaction outside of celluloid.

...

With his casinos, phony charities and Scottish golfing trips, Jack Abramoff has drawn attention to Washington's fascinatingly filthy underbelly. One can only hope that the melodrama will keep people watching. While we should hesitate before defining corruption still further down ("No chiseler left behind!"), we don't need to pause before throwing the bums out. Ask any lawmaker: the harshest penalty one can receive isn't prison; it's losing.

She might be right about no crimes being commited, (or at least provable). It doesn't make it right at all. Those whom we elect should be of the highest moral charactor. Accepting gifts, campaign donations and awards for supporting a lobbyist point of view is wrong. Special interest groups own not only our Congress, but our state of Texas is even more corrupt.Special favors, gifts and campain funds are the lubricants that grease bills to their success or failure. I hope I can prove Rob Booth wrong:

I fear that because the government has grown so large and powerful and can dispense so much graft and so many favors that we may have ratcheted it past the point where people who care about ethics and/or limiting its size can have any influence.


My goal is to not accept any money, gifts or favors from anyone who might expect anything from me and show that it can be done. All I need to do now is to convince the people of District 23 to vote for Raymond Lloyd as their Representative. Its not just a matter of doing whats legal, but of doing what is right.

Review: Brother MFC-640CW


I've had my Umax Astra 600p flatbed scanner for a long time. It was cheap, reliable and gave me decent scans and fax input. Last week as I was scrambling to get in my paperwork and get it faxed in, The old Umax started to choke. It made some grinding noises, gave me some real screwed up scans, and the best that I could do was a pretty grainy scan. It took about 2 hours to get that fax out. I was going to have to fix this and get a new scanner.

My setup was the Umax, an HP 930C deskjet printer, and Winfax Pro. A printer cable was routed through the scanner and terminated at the printer. Workes pretty well, recieves faxes easily, Sending from the computer was pretty straightforward, but sending multiple scanned pages was a multistep slow process.

Equality and I had talked about getting one of those multi-purpose devices. Scanner printer and Fax all in one devices. The prices seemed reasonable enough.

My computer system is named Mr. Fungus, It is messy and tends to grow and expand all over the place. There isn't much room at or near my desk. I have 2 USB ports which are both being used. (Memory Card Reader and PDA Sync cable) My printer is shared and Equality can use her WiFi connected laptop to print to it after a remote login to my computer (I haven't been able to fix that.)

Friday we went to Office Depot to pick one up. (we had a fax that just had to go out.) Our choices quickly narrowed down between an HP, and the Brother MFC-640CW. The HP was $50.00 cheaper and I like HP printers, they are proven and the cartridges are available everywhere, like most devices like this it was USB driven. If I selected the HP I would need a powered USB hub and a cable. The Brother would operate over the wireless network, though an ethernet switch, or USB. Although it cost 50 dollars more I would save that much in USB Hub in Cable. The wireless aspect meant that Equality's laptop can easly access it, and I can put it on the other side of my computer room. The 640CW has a very small footprint and fit very well on top of my UPS.

Set up wasn't completly troublefree, some of the instructions seemed a little sparce, and my Router/Hub cut out in the middle of the install confusing the crap out of me, but all in the install went pretty good. The QuickStart Manual is pretty managable, The actual user's manual is a real book Its too thick to store under the machine and your not going to want to lose this thing. although the documentation on the CD is even more complete. Keeping the manual easily found is important. The machine doesn't need to be kept near a computer so relying CD docs might be awkward. In fact one of the kewl things about this thing is that it very fuctional without any computer, as a small volume copier, fax and answering machine.

Copy function:
This document feader works pretty good and its real easy to get a quick copy of a multipage document. The scanner section doesnt need much warm-up time, and it scans and prints simultanously. Pretty much a one or 2 button operation. Nice to not need to need a computer to interface with it.

Fax:
There are so many options with this thing. I can fax from the computer any document that I can print or just send out a note fax in nanual mode just like any standard standard standalone fax. Recieving Faxes is very configurable. I was hoping that I could receive faxes in memory to recieve into computer, so I can select what I want to print. It all works just as I had hoped. It seems to me that every reasonable answering configuration is covered. One can also use this as an answering machine fax combo also.

Scanning:
I have only scanned a few things with it. Its a lot faster than my old Umax. No warm up, and the data transfer to the computing is lightning fast over the home network. It has a standard Twain interface that seems to agree with most of my programs. I was concerned about losing the ability to scan legal sized paper with this new machine but the document feeder will handle this size paper even though the flatbed is only 11+ inches long. The Scanner is configurable, the default will not take you into the scanner interface where you can select certain parameters such as dpi and scan area.

Printer:
I am pretty happy with my HP 930C its sharp text and beautiful photograph printing made it a good investment. Ink although expencive seems to last for ever. However my computer and Equality's lap talk don't seem to automatically log in. So its not so instaneous printing for her. She has instant access to the Brother once she boots up. I am very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the print on the brother. Text is very black and color rendering is accurate. I haven't tried printing on photo paper but on bright white paper at high resolution the quality is as good if not better than the HP.

Extras:
There are some extra goodies to the Brother that i won't use or didn't concider when I bought it.

  • Media Reader. Included is the ability to read camera media. It reads most common idea including: CompactFlash®; SmartMedia®; Memory Stick®/Pro®; xD-Picture Card™ Conv./Type M; Multi Media Card™ Secure Digital™. Using this Media one can print thumbnails or full images. Neat feature, but not one I'm likely to use. However, one neat feature is ability to read the cards into the PC via ftp. making my card reader redundant. I will be able to free up a USB port.
  • Answering Machine. The unit will store up to 29 minutes of incoming messages. I use a dedicated fax line. This should be a nice feature if one wants to share voice and fax features on one line. The unit has a funtioning phone so one can place a phone call, and then send the fax on one call.
  • Speakerphone. I hate speaker phones, but its there if one wants to use it.
What I don't like:

There isn't much I don't like. The LCD display can be hard to read . You have to look at it almost square on, and when it isn't being back lit it needs some good direct lighting. I had to use a flashlight at one point to read the display. I'm not real crazy about the papertray. Its a little flimsy and it only holds about 100 pages of 20 lb paper.

Summary:
I feel like I got more than I paid for. The card reader, and high quality scan and printing is more than I expected. This is a compact unit that can go anywhere, with only 2 wires (power and phone line) comming out of it. It works well independant of a PC, Yet it works well with multiple computers. The unit is very flexible, so far every time I think I find a limitation I find a configuration change to make it work as I would like.
Update: One week later 1/15/15

I've been using the Machine for another wek and I'm even more pleased with it. I want to make clear that this unit is only used for light printing, My HP 930 handles 90 precent of my printing tasks. The Brother is used for occassionan copies, and printing a single page from a laptop. This unit just stops printing when it believes its out of ink. Although one can print B&W if a color cartridge is out.

One pleasant surprise I've discovered about this package is the included software. Paperport in particular is real nice. This is the OCR. Its been years since I played with any OCR code and that was on a 486 Machine. The software was slow awkward, and just about useless.

I got a spam Fax, and I read it into the paperport, My Brother isn't configured to print any Fax's only to download them into paperport. The Fax was of low and quality multi-font with some simple line graphics. Most of the Fonts were of 9 and 10 points. Some 5 point fonts were at the bottom.

A simple drag `n drop translated the graphic image into a word document, with very few errors. The tiny text had lots of errors, and the few that were in the main body, were due to the ambiguity of the poor quality of the original. The formating and font replication in the Word Document was very good. This has a lot of potential for a blogger, or one who needs to transform printed matter into emails or other electronic documents.

Update:
I had the brother for a littlemore than year, and it gave out on me. It still recieved FAQs, but it stopped communicatting via the network either wirless or wired ethernet, I relaced it with a HP Officejet 6310 All-IN-ONE I'll review it later and link to it from here.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Air Marshall Tom Quinn Resigns

Federal Air Marshall Chief Tom Quinn resigns. Good riddance, I hope that that the new chief has more common sense. Quinn had done all he could to destroy the air marshalls morale and make them as ineffective as possible. Michelle Malkins has more. Check out her links in the post also.

If you happen to be on a plane from Houston to Florida on a Friday evening and see a guy on the plane between 30 and 50 wearing a jacket and tie, its not real hard to figure out who he is.

Pat Robertson's Compassion

Pat Robertson has words of wisdom and comfort about Prime Minister Sharon's declining health.
The Rev. Pat Robertson said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was punished by God for dividing the Land of Israel.

Speaking on the 700 Club on Thursday, Robertson suggested that Sharon, who is currently in an induced coma following a massive stroke and cerebral hemorrhage, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated by an Israeli extremist in 1995, were being treated harshly by God for dividing Israel.

"He was dividing God's land," Robertson said. "And I would say, "Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America.� God says, "This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.


Once again Pat shows his compassion and Christian charity.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Teresa is Angry, very Angry

Teresa Nielsen Hayden is upset at Ralph Nader to say the least.

If Ralph Nader is run over by a beer truck and killed, if a very large meteorite falls on the offices of Public Citizen and vaporizes the lot of them, I won’t feel sorry. Not the least little bit.

I’m too angry right now to even explain why. More on this when I’m not inarticulate with rage.

Patrick, you’re welcome to take a crack at it, if you feel like it. No obligation.

Yup that sounds like some real anger to me. Her husband put it all in context.

PATRICK RESPONDS: Okay, this and this.

Cylert (generic name “pemoline”) has been the most effective treatment for Teresa’s narcolepsy in 24 years since she was first diagnosed. She’s been taking it for most of that time. Now it’s gone.

We discovered this when we tried to refill her standard prescription, just before Christmas, and the pharmacy didn’t have any—and, after some confusion, reported back that the wholesaler didn’t have any either, because (surprise!) it’s no longer being made.

Cylert has been implicated in some people’s liver problems. Teresa is regularly tested and her liver is fine. Evidently Abbott, makers of brand-name Cylert, discontinued it in March—but Sandoz intended to keep making the generic version, until the FDA, pressured by Nader’s group, weighed in to discontinue it entirely—despite a last-minute appeal from the Narcolepsy Network. Thank you, Public Citizen, for completely shafting my wife.

She and her husband have every right to be upset, but perhaps the bulk of her anger is misdirected as Eric S. Raymond points out.
But I also think her anger seems curiously misdirected. She’s wishing death on Ralph Nader and his “Public Citizen” group, but it isn’t Nader who banned Cylert. The FDA did that. And it isn’t Nader who has the authority to jail pharmacists who sell the drug and harass companies who make it. It’s the FDA. More generally, what’s at fault here is not just any one pressure group, it’s the entire political system that gives government control of what adults put in their bodies in the privacy of their homes.
Its inevitable when the FDA forces a drug off the market that things like this happen. If the FDA doesn't shut down drugs such as this then litagation will. It needs to be fixed, unfortunatly Congress doesn't seem to have the courage to do anything about it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Microsoft takes down Chinese blogger

A Chinese blogger using Microsoft Spaces had his blog removed in an outragous example of censorship This was not the Communist Chinese government blocking access, but Microsoft actually pulling the plug.
Microsoft’s MSN Spaces continues to censor its Chinese language blogs, and has become more aggressive and thorough at censorship since I first checked out MSN’s censorship system last summer. On New Years Eve, MSN Spaces took down the popular blog written by Zhao Jing, aka Michael Anti. Now all you get when you attempt to visit his blog at: http://spaces.msn.com/members/mranti/ is the error message pictured above. (You can see the Google cache of his blog up until Dec.22nd here.)

Note, his blog was TAKEN DOWN by MSN people. Not blocked by the Chinese government.

Anti is one of China’s edgiest journalistic bloggers, often pushing at the boundaries of what is acceptable. (See a recent profile of him here, and an interview with Anti here.) His old blog at the U.S.-hosted Blog-city is believed to have caused the Chinese authorities to block all Blog-city blogs. In the final days of December, Anti became a vocal supporter of journalists at the Beijing Daily News who walked off the job after the top editors were fired for their increasingly daring investigative coverage, including some recent reporting on the recent police shootings of village protestors in the Southern China. (For all the gory details on the current press crackdown click here, here, here, and here.) Roland Soong at ESWN has preserved the original Chinese-language posts of Anti’s Call for a Beijing News Walk Out and his Call to Cancel Beijing News Subscriptions.

The Cinese have it so eay when they can get American companys to do their dirty work for them.

Monday, January 02, 2006

I'm running

I am going to be running for District 23 State Representative on the Libertarian Party ticket. I don't have a campaign commitee and I don't have much money, I have a blog, I have integrity and no one owns me. I don't think any one who reads this blog will have many doubts about how I will vote on most issues.
So far I haven't formalized the issues I will run on, but a generalized list is.
  • Smaller government & less taxes
  • Local governments should have more self determination.
  • Open Representation, I will be open about what the bills are up, how I intend to vote, how I voted and why.
  • No one owns me, I am an outsider in the political process. I don't owe anyone favors, nor will I allow myself to be put into position of political indebtedness.
  • Not only will I listen to my constituents, I will actively seek them out and make myself available.
Those who will be voting for District 23 Rep. in November will not find "Liberty" printed on the ballot. In black bold letters should be printed "Raymond Lloyd" that's me.

Rhymes With Right

Over at Rhymes With Right, Greg wonders how Gov. Blanco can spend more than half a million dollars on a private office remodeling. In the meantime because of budget shortfalls the state is planning on laying off 18,000 state employees.
I'm glad we had the priorities straight -- office upgrades for the governor's staff certainly trump the students and teachers of Louisiana, as well as those who rely on public health programs. Heck -- I bet that a dozen state employees could have kept their jobs if your staff had just walked on older carpet or kept the space configured in the older fashion. After all, it had only been about twenty years since the last remodeling job.
I don't know what Gov. Blanco is thinking.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

It's another year come and gone. 2005 has been pretty good. Galveston is still mostly above water. Equality and I are healthy. We are a year closer to my retirement, but alas, a year older also. We did have a confrontation with a hurricane this year, but our only loses were the evacuation cost itself.

I moved the blog and it recovered nicely.

We got to spend some time with family. This year we visited them in Tennessee, Las Vegas and New York.

Yup, all and all its been a pretty good year.