Sunday, February 27, 2005

I am not MIA....Just Very Busy.....

Fouviere Basilica in the distance Posted by Hello

I know its been quiet here for the last week but holy smoke has it been busy. We have an hour commute each way via the metro to the client which includes a mile and a half walk from and to the metro station on the client end. On the hotel end we have mostly an indoor walk through the commercial center and only a brief exposure to the elements. Posting this on Sunday afternoon after a walk around. Quite cold about 25 F and expected to get into the teens tonight. I imagine the commute in the morning will be absolutely frigid. Not only that but it has begun to snow!
Everything shuts down on Sunday here. Not even a kiosk in the mall is open. I did manage to find a little market this am to replenish my water supply. Caught up on the time reporting and expense reports--so ready for another week.
Still unable to VPN out of here as the hotel has no public IP addresses to no contact with the corporate network for 4 more weeks. The client refuses to allow us to connect to their network so I guess we a SOL.
This is the first picture to post to the blog. Enjoy and I will try and do more now that I have it almost figured out.
Intersting note. I turned on CNN last night out of boredom and lo and behold there was the Daily Show. I will have to check again and see if it is regular occurence. CNN international is a wee bit different from the domestic version it seems.
Au Revoir

Monday, February 21, 2005

Safe and Sound

Well safe and sound in Lyon. Snow on the ground and still snow showers around. It will only warm to a little above freezing here today. Please excuse typos for the next month or so as I am having to use a French keyboard and a lot of letters are in a different place that an on an English one. Sorry to hear about Hunter Thompson as he always seemed to get to the heart of the matter. Maybe the old saw about genius and insanity being just a thought apart is true. We've lost a special mind.
TOday is basically a through away as the team gets out security passes etc. We are not allowed to connect our laptops the the clients network and they, instead, are providing us with a PC (Win98) aarrgh. Interconnect with the team will be with thumb drives. Do have some access to the internet but it is heavily restricted by the client...I was actually surprised to be able to hit blogger. Anyhow off we go to get our security badges and lunch.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

It's all Yours

Leaving today for an extended trip to the wilds of France. Limited internet access as the hotel charges 15 Euros a day...$20 at today's rate. See if you can't get the impeachment rolling while I'm gone and if not try and get the troops home from Iraq. If neither one of those things work out you might focus trying to get Rush convicted. Actually, now that I think of it there are lots of little things that could use some attention. Look around.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Just Great!

A convicted criminal (lying to Congress) is now being offered as the new head of National Intelligence. John Negroponte is probably one of the most corrupt men in the administration. A convicted liar and most probably a party to mass murder and torture. Wake me up somebody and tell me this is a dream.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Five Morons

Paul Craig Roberts has a great rant over at Counterpunch

You see, the facts that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis' homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy to Iraq."

And there is a bonus of a new derisive term for Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Cheney and Bush "The Five Morons"

Wal-Mart Wins Again

Nathan Newman has the whole thing but in a nutshell--the Dept. of Labor has agreed to let Wal-Mart know before it initiates any labor law violation against Wal-Mart.

Let me translate this into the actual Wal-Mart response.

We can violate any labor law we want without fear since we will be notified if someone complains and before an investigation is launched. This will give us time to fire the bastard(s) that complain or otherwise disappear the problem. Therefore we will have much more freedom to suck the life out of our employees because the chance of an indictment or fine is now zilch.

George Bush is our boy--we bought him and his soul--cheap!


New York Times

A test of the national missile defense system failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean, the military said. It was the second failure in months for the experimental program.

The previous test, on Dec. 15, failed under almost identical circumstances. The target missile launched, but the interceptor did not. Military officials later blamed that failure on fault-tolerance software that was oversensitive to small errors in the flow of data between the missile and a flight computer. The software shut down the launch; officials said they would decrease the sensitivity in future launches.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Grandmother does 100

Here we are in snowy and cold Western Virginia for a very special birthday party. My Grandmother turns 100 years old today the 11th of February. While I am not sure she will register all of the importance, it is a very special day. She will most often get angry if you tell she is 100 as she insists she is 89. It is virtually impossible to grasp what the 100 years has seen. Automobiles, electricity, radio, television, space travel, home computers and even iPods did not exist when she was born. Not only that but WW1, WW2, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq 1, Iraq 2. Like I said it is not something I can grasp. She has outlived all of her brothers and sisters and all of her children and two husbands and it wasn’t easy.

Happy Birthday Ruby from your first Grandson.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Elephant is Being Ignored

In all of the discussion about the deficit and the 2.7 trillion dollar budget we are not hearing much at all about the parts of the budget that have been created by Republican policies over the last 25 years. The real elephant in the room is that 25 years of Republican government have left this nation 8 Trillion Dollars in debt. We are paying 300 Billion Dollars per year in interest. The current Bush deficit is a spending program in itself and each year of 400 Billion Dollar deficits adds between 10 and 20 Billion Dollars a year of new interest spending. Folks, this is forever, or until we pay it off, whichever comes first. Do the calculations and you will find that the Reagan/Bush deficits are the largest federal spending program enacted since WWII. Guess what we are getting for this spending? Zilch, Zippo, Nada ducky. If you think about it it’s also the largest part of the budget that is untouchable. While Bush’s tax cuts are focused on the wealthy what is really important to understand, is that they shift the tax burden from investment/dividend income to earned income.
What needs to made clear to everyone talking about the deficit is that it shifts the tax burden from wealth to work. Not only are the increasing the current burden on the middle and lower classes they are also irresponsible because they shift a large portion of the tax burden to future generations. Talk about taxation without representation.
We need some serious discussion of where we would be if Clinton’s positive budget had continued, we were not spending 5-6 Billion a month on War, and we had not increased the Pentagon budget by 41% since 2001. If anyone expects the Repubs to raise these points they are living in a fantasy land. We need to bring them forward and frame as the moral issues they are.
The conservative economic agenda for America is hitting its stride and we are in serious danger of pushing the economy into a total collapse. The great social programs begun in 1935 are under serious attack and the time to fight is now.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Here's An Idea

Holden over at First_Draft has an idea
Politics Let's restore all of the domestic progam's Chimpy is cutting in his budget proposal by taking $8 billion from his supplemental request for neverending war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Certainly we can do the job there, now that glorious elections have been held in both colonies, with a healthy $72 billion

Wal-Mart to Market a House Wine

Wal-Mart announced that they will soon be offering customers a new discount item: Wal-Mart's own brand of wine. The world's largest retail chain is teaming up with E&J Gallo Winery of California, to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2-5 range.

While wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw a bottle of Wal-Mart brand into their shopping carts, "There is a market for cheap wine", said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing, "But the right name is important."

Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for the Wal-Mart brand. The top surveyed names in order of popularity are:

10. Chateau Traileur Parc

9. White Trashfindel

8. Big Red Gulp

7. World Championship Riesling

6. NASCARbernet

5. Chef Boyardeaux

4. Peanut Noir

3. I Can't Believe It's Not Vinegar!

2. Grape Expectations

And the number 1 name for Wal-Mart Wine:

1. Nasti Spumante

If you haven't guessed it's a joke I received from a friend and there is no source. If you are the author I will be happy to give you credit - it's hilarious.

New Budget Love for the Common Man

Let me see... so far as I have been able to glean from the news and the web the new Bush budget is making cuts in the following domestic programs, to name a few:

* Environmental protection
* American Indian schools
* Grants to local police agencies
* Grants to local fire fighters
* The National Park Service
* Home heating aid for the poor
* The Center for Disease Control
* Health programs, including those designed to respond to terrorist attacks
* Veterans Benefits
* Amtrak
* Medicaid
* Farm subsidies (Brad DeLong comments)

This is from a WaPo editorial
Between 2000 and 2003, the number of people living in poverty rose 14 percent. In 2003, the most recent year for which numbers are available, one out of every eight Americans was poor, a disproportionate number of them children. The number without health insurance was the highest on record; more Americans went hungry. The poorest fell further below the poverty line while the richest took home a greater share of national income than ever.

Here I am getting ready to break out in "The Star Spangled Banner" again.

Do You Know About These Crises?

Doctors Without Borders have produced a list of 2004's 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Crises. These are basically getting no coverage in the media or if any not much. We in the US are focused on our own problems, which are considerable, but should at least understand these and allows us to put ours into perspective. I was especially shocked to read about TB which I stupidly thought was virtually wiped out except for an isolated case here and there. It kills someone every 15 seconds worldwide.

Don't Get Pulled In

One comment on the Social Security thing. I can't stress how important it is for the Democrats to stand aside and let the Repubs have the field for the time being. As Darth Cheney demonstrated this weekend they are slowly losing the focus and are doing themselves harm in the process. The time to respond is when they actually produce a plan, which of course will be assailable. Stepping into the fray now with a proposal will just give the Repubs the ability to point and say that "See even the Democrats see the need for reform". Don't play into their hands.
The only response to Social Security Private accounts should be:

The Democrats had a plan 70 years ago and it is still working and will until 2042,at least. We don't need to add trillions to the debt for something that is not broken. Bush's handlers know their deficit spending and war is putting the General Fund in a position where it won't be able to meet its obligations to the Social Security Trust Fund and they are looking for a backdoor way to default on that trust.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

What Surprise?

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere while I was out of touch in the UK about how Bush is going to defaulton the trust fund debt. I realized the minute I heard him talking about the crisis in 2018 that it included the assumption that the trust fund was screwed. I am not nearly as smart as some of these folks and it hit me instantly. Whatever.

The Violent March of Democracy

Mark Morford always reduces it down to the raw stuff.

"Let's just say it outright: The ends do not justify the means. A barely democratic Iraq is fine and good, but you well know that if Bush had mumbled to the nation three years and $300 billion ago that we were going to start bombing this piss-poor country back to the Stone Age and gut the U.S. economy and put thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis in death's way to deliver it, all while sending the nastiest possible message to the world and actually increasing the threat of terrorism while turning our backs on every major U.S. ally, I doubt many Americans would have giddily waved the flag of support (except maybe Ann Coulter, who apparently loves anything involving guns and dead foreigners)."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Too Early to Tell

It will be interesting to see how much of the WH hype and media bias on the “success” of the Iraqi elections turns out to be true. Even here in the UK there are pictures on the tube of smiling Iraqis voting here and much hype around the millions that have voted. I am very suspicious of the whole thing considering the voting environment and the amount of input the US has had. We’ll reserve judgment for the time being especially with respect to ending violence and how this was a victory over the terrorists.

Way Too Much Attention to Jackson Trial

Well another day in Jolly olde. Watching BBC2 this morning I am amazed at how much time they are spending on the Michael Jackson trial. At least every half hour there is an update on what is happening which in the morning in England is absolutely nothing. Most amazing is the admission that pretty much nothing but jury selection is happening for the next month as they go through the initial pool of jurors of about 300 per day. The actual trial is not supposed to start for at least another month. Reports have it that there are over a 1000 journalists in the California town to cover the trial. Personally I think there is not a newsworthy moment associated with this at least until they have a verdict. Weird.