Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Good news. Really good news, for a representative democracy. This should up our transparency score internationally. At least, it's a start.
Pretty disappointed to learn, though, that it was environmental crimes being hidden, rather than aliens, in Area 51. Although by now...
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Obama creates center for declassification
President Obama used an executive order Tuesday to create the National Declassification Center, which will oversee efforts to make once-secret government documents public.
The order comes as part of Obama's promise to push government to lean toward disclosure as it tackles the need to keep certain information from the public.
In a post on the White House blog, William H. Leary, senior director of records and access management at the National Security Council, writes that the effort is aimed at shifting the burden of defending secrecy to the government.
"While the Government must be able to prevent the public disclosure of information that would compromise the national security, a democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment," he wrote.
As a candidate, Obama promised to run the most open and transparent administration ever. He has released White House visitor log data for the first time, though only months after the visits. But his decision not to release some information about detainee torture and his acceptance of closed-door negotiations on the health-care bill in Congress have brought criticism from good-government groups.
In the executive order, Obama instructs the government not to keep secrets forever, eliminates the ability of intelligence officials to veto declassification decisions, and requires agencies to conduct reviews of their classification procedures.
--- Michael D. Shearhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/29/AR2009122902770.html
Saturday, December 26, 2009
"Taxpayers have put up an estimated $17.5 trillion toward guarantees, loans, and bailouts since 2008, and what have they to show for it? They've seen their net worth drop by an estimated $14 trillion. The nation's jobless rate hit 10.2 percent in October- it's half again higher for people between the ages of 20 adn 24...
"Banking interests have been the beneficiaries of that $17.5 trillion in guarantees, loans and bailouts, and what have they to show for it? At top-tier firms such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase, the aid has meant record profits- which means record bonuses. Those two outfits, along with Morgan-Stanley, all of which received funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, will reportedly dole out an unprecedented $29.7 billion in bonuses for 2009, almost half of that by Goldman Sachs alone, meaning it will enrich its 31,700 employees by an average of $415,000 each." Editor's Letter, Vanity Fair, January 2010.
Anybody out there thinking, "I'd take a tenth of that $415,000 and put it to really good use?" Yeah, I am.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
For the FFM because we talk about this quite a bit:
You probably already heard on NPR this morning that "durable goods" are those that are bigger purchases expected to last 3 years or more. Three years? Computers don't count as "durable goods."
And that's all I am going to write, not because I am lazy, but because I'm making your pear pie.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Does this freak anyone else out?
"Texas, it seems, is the big winner. It added more people from home and abroad than any other state this year — 231,539. That is more than Florida, Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, combined."
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Today I will share with you a recent article my friend Marc just sent, about his work with the Wyoming Kids Alliance, currently doing a documentary with grant funds from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, on juvenile justice in Wyoming.
I asked Marc if he ever feels like he's going to always be banging his head against the wall in this state? Seriously, I do.
Simpson participates, Skoric rejects group
By Kristen Inbody
Not everyone in Park County has been as willing as former senator Al Simpson to participate in a documentary project on juvenile justice reform in Wyoming.
Filmmaker Marc Homer said Bryan Skoric - whom he termed a “somewhat recalcitrant county attorney” - declined participation in the film.
Homer acknowledged he and the Park County attorney have a different perspective on the issue.
“It’s interesting to understand the 360-degree view and someone I don’t agree with may have valid points I can learn from, and to learn what a county attorney might face in your town,” Homer said.
Skoric said it was Homer who denied his interview offer, or at least his terms.
“I told him I would happily sit for an interview at any time of his choosing, but I wanted a statement on Casey Foundation letterhead that my interview would play unedited in its entirely,” Skoric said.
Homer’s project doesn’t even meet the definition of a documentary, Skoric said.
“I don’t believe he’s doing a documentary; it’s an authoritative instructive statement of evidence, and he’s incapable of doing that,” Skoric said. “He’s capable of producing a one-sided story capable of promoting his organization.”
The Casey Foundation, based in Maryland, is “one-sided” and advocates compliance with the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act.
The law attempts to keep juveniles out of jail by requiring that law enforcement officials detain them away from adult offenders, incarcerate them for no more than six hours and keep status offenders (those committing crimes such as drinking or smoking underage) out of jail completely.
“Wyoming decided long ago we’re not going to come into compliance,” Skoric said. The foundation wants to “go along with what our Legislature said we don’t want, which is a one-sized fits all approach.”
Wyoming is capable of taking care of the children of the state without the $600,000 compliance would bring from the federal government, Skoric said.
“Their programs don’t work,” he said.
Wyoming prosecutors and sheriffs join him in disputing Homer’s claims about the state of juvenile justice, he said.
“It’s a liberal movement out there to change how Wyoming does business,” Skoric said. “Once the Legislature decides they want to do something different, we’ll follow that.”
The documentary is not about helping children but about helping Homer himself, Skoric said.
“Mr. Homer survives off grant money and grant funded positions,” he said.
“If he wants to talk about children and facts, I’ll happily sit down,” he said.
But taking snippets from an interview wouldn’t work for him, Skoric said.
Skoric said he researched the project, citing a newspaper story and video showing the filmmaker’s bias.
“They’ve already formulated their opinions on Wyoming systems, and I don’t see how that can be a documentary.”
A documentary is based on fact, but Homer has “already made up his mind. He’s gearing it toward what the Casey Foundation wants,” Skoric said.
In April, the Park County commissioners rejected a $63,000 grant on Skoric’s advice. Skoric said at the time the county couldn’t take money for actions it wasn’t willing to take, as outlined in the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act.
Skoric instead solicited more money from the city and county to pay for the two juvenile probation officers handling cases from municipal and circuit courts.
Homer said the grant “wasn’t a heavy-handed move,” but “was offering the opportunity to coalesce around this issue and work in a productive way to help resolve some of the problems.
“It’s disappointing he decided to turn down the money,” Homer added, saying Park County people can determine the direction of the county at the ballot box.
“I hope if there are future initiatives the leadership in Cody would work toward resolving some of the problems we have with juvenile justice,” he said. “To turn a blind eye and say there’s no problem is a mistake.”
Monday, December 21, 2009
from the Cody Enterprise,
Monday, December 21, 2009
I'm pleased to have this opportunity at last to write you, since I have the flu and am otherwise incapacitated.
I have been wanting to find time to do this for quite a while. In fact, since this summer, when I sent you two checks in the same envelope in payment on my credit card account, and only one was applied to my balance, resulting in a fee for not having paid the minimum owed, and subsequently, an exhorbitant raise in my interest rate.
You see, I had in fact paid well over the minimum amount due, via the two checks. Yet when I called to have the matter cleared, I was told BY A PERSON on the phone, that the computer cannot read more than one check from an envelope. Amazing. A machine can't do a humans job.
Well, I did a human's task in asking the person who had written me the check that was lost by the computer, to write me a new check in the same amount. This, of course, resulted in that person having to consider whether or not to make a "stop payment" on his account, which might result in a fee by his bank BECAUSE A COMPUTER AT BARCLAYS WAS GIVEN THE TASK OF ACCEPTING AND CREDITING PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNTS, BUT THAT COMPUTER WAS NOT CAPABLE, APPARENTLY, OF BEING ABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ONE AND TWO CHECKS IN AN ENVELOPE.
This is fine; I perhaps must accept the FFM's admonition that I am the only person in the world who still signs checks that are written over to me to other parties in payment I owe them, and that I should be prepared when such things happen as happened between me and Barclays Bank.
Here is the part I am still having difficulty swallowing: When I spoke to A PERSON on the phone at Barclays and was told the computer is not able to carry out a human type task of being able to tell that there are two checks, and not just one, in an envelope, that same PERSON told me that she, THE PERSON, COULD NOT CARRY OUT A HUMAN FUNCTION OF RECTIFYING THE ILL CAUSED BY THE COMPUTER AND SETTING MY INTEREST RATE BACK TO A REASONABLE RATE. Do you know why? Because it is AN ELECTRONIC SYSTEM, AND ONLY COMPUTERS CAN DO THAT TASK, AND THE COMPUTER IS NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM IT CAUSED AND TO RECTIFY THE SITUATION BY ADJUSTING THE INTEREST RATE. Yes, that is what your employee told me- the HUMAN employee.
So, I ask, why is it that THE COMPUTER CAN INCREASE AN INTEREST RATE WHEN IT MAKES A MISTAKE, BUT IT CANNOT SUBSEQUENTLY DECREASE AN INTEREST RATE IT HAS INCREASED because of its own inability to distinguish two checks in an envelope and apply payment accordingly to my account. And further, why is it that A HUMAN, WHO COULD COUNT TWO CHECKS UPON REMOVING THEM FROM AN ENVELOPE COULD NOT DECREASE AN INTEREST RATE MISTAKENLY INCREASED BY A COMPUTER?
I would like you to know, Barclays, two additional pertinent points to this case:
1) I have not had the same problem with other banks or companies. THEIR COMPUTERS CAN COUNT MORE THAN ONE CHECK IN AN ENVELOPE AND APPLY PAYMENT ACCORDINGLY.
2) I am not the only person who has had problems with Barclays computer and human personnel. I know people who have had store accounts: ie. LLBean and now refuse to use them because BARCLAYS PERSONNEL, COMPUTER OR HUMAN, CANNOT, OR WILL NOT, UNDERTAKE RESPONSIBLE ACCOUNTING. No, I am not even talking about cheating people to the point of running a bank into the ground so the public is obliged to bail its stinking remains out. I am talking about, for example, a friend who kept receiving notices he had not paid the minimum due, and receiving attendant fees for the discretion, when in fact, he had NOT paid the minimum due, but had paid MORE. And this happened for more than one month consecutively, until he finally got sick of yelling at the human employees at Barclay's and cut up his card and mailed it back.
This is not the only instance I can deliver, beyond my own situation, of Barclays Bank doing bad business, but I feel like I am going to throw up- whether because of the flu or the sour taste Barclays Bank give me- so I will wind it up for now, except to say,
I hope Santa pees in all your stockings, too, this Christmas, just as soon as he is done with B.Gates and before he pees in the stockings of the little jerkoffs who commit day-to-day rude acts.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
OK, people, so here is how it started: This morning I was catching up on e-mail, cleaning out my inbox and so on, and I realized that my ex-husband had not yet responded to an e-mail I sent like a week ago about this time share condo we have had for a long time and no longer use and continue to pay maintenance fees on anyway and keep talking about selling and I have listed on a website and continue to update and since he still has the same name he gets the annual bill yet is consistently late telling me what I owe for the year and when it is due and then offers to pay the late fee and I let him because I ask him to let me know how much and when and am confident it's his own goddam fault if he can't be responsible enough to let me know on time... so, anyway, I send him another e-mail saying, basically, "Look, I know you say you are busy, but it will take you just a few minutes to read and respond to my recent e-mail to which I attached a letter I wrote, even though I too have been busy, attempting to take care of this getting the condo out of our lives thing for good- if you really want to get rid of it, as you claim you do." You know, it would not bother me nearly as much if he were a responsible adult, but let's be honest here: He is NOT. Yet he spent years bitching about how irresponsible my mother was. The guy has, all his life, been allowed to act irresponsibly, and someone has picked up the tab, whether his parents or his latest wife's parents, I imagine, financially, or me keeping up the house and paying the bills and so on and so forth, and apparently other things I wasn't even aware of, because when I left him, someone close to us said, "I wondered when you were going to stop babysitting him." Well, in the condo deal, it seems I am still babysitting him. Jerbus cripes.
So, that's how my day started, but I got it off my chest, and I will shut up to you all about it now and will never bring it up again- unless to let you know that he has become responsible in the time share arena.
Then, I went to buy groceries. I pulled into the parking lot, and this young couple from Texas pulled in off the street, as I was driving straight, and proceeded to cut me off with a quick left-turn. OK, fine, douchebags. You're from Texas; you're assholes. (Sorry, all my friends from and in Texas, but really, I know or know of more people from and in Texas who are jerks than there are all of you.)
I did my grocery shopping and wheeled the cart out toward my car to find that some lazy shite had left his or her cart right up next to my driver's side door. And the cart corral was exactly across the parking lane. What the hell? People are too friggin' tired after their long slog through the store and then packing their chips and soda into the car to walk their lard asses across the lane to park the empty cart they used? So they have to leave it up against my driver's side door, to boot?
I seriously am beginning to wonder why I ever have thought or would think that I love people. People are selfish, greedy, rude, irresponsible dipshits for the most part. The FFM has encouraged me to hate. I'm considering taking his advice.
Merry Christmas, assholes of this country. I hope Santa pisses in your stockings as soon as he's done with B.Gates- and all over your giant flat screen TVs, too, until they develop hopeless short circuits.
Ho ho f-ing ho.
Friday, December 18, 2009
OK, peeps, so this morning I got my weekly dose of Economist Energy Alerts, and of course this Copenhagen thing and climate change is all over the place. Honestly, I don't get what the big deal is. Are people really as greedy and myopic and slave to capitalism and industrialism that this has to be a political fist fight? Yeah, of course. And we all know it.
The girl who spoke up in front of the conference in Brazil for 5 minutes, reprimanding the people with the power for wrecking her future? Too bad they listened for 5 minutes and 5 minutes only. You think they didn't? And in the photos, they all looked so serious, and sad. Probably they were, for a few seconds, at least.
OK, I will take on a somber air fitting of the occasion: they still look serious and worried and pinched as all hell. Check it out:
That's the "official site" where you can see the disarray and some pretty fine photos of all sorts of people looking, well, not like things are going their way.
Anyway, so I thought I would add to the very grave nature of these talks, with today's photo, courtesy of my Dad, by way of my cousin Sue. Take this seriously, people. These snowmen are totally bummed.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Update | 2:58 p.m. In a counter-maneuver to thwart an effort by Senate Republicans to stall the health care debate, Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, has withdrawn his amendment that would create a fully government-run health care system.
The Republicans, engaging in parliamentary warfare, had been forcing the clerks to read the entire 767-page amendment. That move threatened to grind the Senate to a halt for the rest of the day, and perhaps longer.
Read the earlier version of this article below, published before Mr. Sanders withdrew the amendment:http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/a-read-aloud-public-option/?nl=us&emc=politicsemailema1
No, Bernie, no!
Look, people, what the hell are we doing here? Paying a bunch of people to argue about something that doesn't exist and never will exist because those people won't stand up and say, "Quit playing games, jerks. I'm not playing games. No more business as usual."
I am sad and sick about this. And I was just telling a friend this morning that I can't stand to talk about this issue. Well, I finally said something. Don't get me wrong; I'm a freedom-loving libertarian who would like to be able to choose my healthcare option. But I'd at least like us all to have a choice.
Let the bastards stall the debate until we say, "We don't want you to stall the debate any more, you assholes, and even though the pharmaceuticals and other 'health' lobbyists really pay your tab, you answer to the people who elected you and whom you serve..."
What the hell is the sense, if we are just going to get what we have had, and we all know it's not good enough? KICK YOUR GODDAM CAREER POLITICIANS OUT OF OFFICE AND TAKE BACK THIS COUNTRY. Am I the only one who wants that?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
OK, I am done with the most challenging final exam I have taken- maybe ever- and am home and have already shoveled that sweet, sweet, dry, fluffy snow so people can slip up if they want but won't be able to sue me, and even though the UPS guy came through in the snow and dropped a big box with a present for the FFM on the porch this morning, and even though I have to work on my economics paper before the FFM gets here and needs the computer so he can read my blog, I am going to take a little time to write a non-lazy longish story. But don't think it won't be filled with bitter cynicism.
So, here is the deal, I decided as I enjoyed a leisurely walk in the -3degrees, blowing snow, this morning on the way to the dreaded exam: When it snows like this, people are even stupider drivers than when it doesn't snow. They still speed on major streets near campus, often through red lights, and swerve around corners when they still have a red light, or have a green light but the little white walking man is on the WALK sign, meaning pedestrians have the right of way, and so on.
And I ask myself, Why are these people out? Why don't they walk where they want to go, or just stay home? Will the economy crash because a few people stayed home from work today? Will their place of employment fold? OK, things like nursing homes, hospitals and the like, I can see. People need to be cared for. But there are people on their shifts, right? Who maybe would like to get home and have a cup of coffee with a dash of Bailey's in it and then putter off to bed, or to watch daytime TV... But they would stay if need be, right? I mean, after all, they shouldn't be driving home any more than someone should be driving to work. Right?
Let's face it: We (including corporate queen bees and their multitude of drones) allowed a bunch of greedy, irresponsible financiers to fall down on the job and then agreed to pick up the pieces for them, so in comparison, is it wrong to suggest that if a whole bunch of us regular peeps who work for a living took a day off, responsibly, to stay home and safe, off the roads- for ourselves and others' sake- the world would not come to a crashing end?
Or, if we did decide to go out to work, or gawd forbid, WalMart, would we really be messing with the hands of time and fate to be a few minutes late because we drove safely? Or crap, what if we left early? (Although I can commiserate with those who really don't like that idea at all- even though I did leave early today for my slog in the snow, knowing it would not be polite- but also wouldn't kill anyone or cause any economy, or in this case educational institution, to collapse- to be late for a final exam.)
Jerbus Cripes. I probably could have skipped the test and claimed that walking to school in traffic was simply too hazardous.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Surveillance Shocker: Sprint Received 8 MILLION Law Enforcement Requests for GPS Location Data in the Past Yearhttp://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/12/surveillance-shocker-sprint-received-8-million-law
The FFM has come to the conclusion that I am now running a lazy blog, and wants to know where my book-long stories are. I find this difficult to fathom, as he is around almost all the time, while I am sweating over lost files and paper deadlines and soil chem finals and the like.
And I thought my ex-husband was lacking observation skills. (He was.)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
But, since I inadvertently arrived here when I meant to hit the link for the university library (both sites offering comparable amounts of knowledge and wisdom, of course), I'll just put this out there, not that you haven't heard it before:
Bill Gates is a farce. He ought to be ashamed of hiding behind a mask of philanthropy while entrapping those of us who willingly or by forced marched into the modern era of computer technology. Shame on you, Bill Gates. I hope Santa pisses in your stocking this year.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Members of House worth $1 billion
Analysis of financial disclosure forms finds 125 millionaires.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are worth at least $1 billion.
An analysis of financial disclosure forms by Roll Call, a sister publication of Congress.org, found 125 lawmakers were worth more than $1 million.
Overall, the representatives, nonvoting delegates and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico were worth at least $1.13 billion with a minimum debt of $125.69 million. (Numbers are not exact because Members only report a range of their net worth.)
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the richest House lawmaker, with a minimum net worth of at least $164.65 million, while Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) is at the bottom, with negative $2.13 million.
The 10 richest Members were worth a total of $557.06 million — more than half of the House's combined worth.
They include Issa and Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Harry Teague (D-N.M.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
To see an interactive chart of House Members' net worth, click here .
-- Ryan Teague Beckwith, Congress.orghttp://mail.google.com/mail/#inbox/1254900f9bb85f89