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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Consulting 101

In consulting, consistent 12 to 16 hour days could be the sign of an extremely dedicated consultant or a complete incompetence on the Statement of Work creation. It may be the case that prolonged daily engagements are not due to the consultant's lack of intelligence but rather the lack of due diligence in initial requirements gathering, resource scoping and the ability to translate the customer's pain points into an accurate, actionable plan. The result is a consultant with a vague Statement of Work prepared by a non-technical salesman that requires translation, improvements and expectation management. Correct scoping leads to increased revenues for the consultancy, better customer satisfaction and a general morale boost for the consulting staff.

Also, it should be noted that the acronym SME no longer stands for Subject Matter Expert; rather, Send Me Everywhere.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Solving THE Problem

The problem is that people don't understand problems in general. They may see them, they may even try to resolve them, but they are completely ineffectual because they lack the knowledge that 95% of problems we see – in any form or practice – are really just symptoms of the other 5% of real issues. Allow me to demonstrate with some analogies.

Suppose you have a deep chest cough, a severe sinus headache, a constantly running nose, chills, fever and achy joints. Suppose you've felt this way for over a week with no improvement. Do you take Tylenol for the headache, a sinus decongestant for the nose, a cough suppressant for the hacking cough, a cough expectorant to loosen the phlegm, cover with blankets to address the chills, use ice to mitigate the achy joints and occasionally cold baths to reduce the fever? Or do you consider these "problems" as merely results of a larger chronic issue that will not spontaneously improve by simply addressing the symptoms. Perhaps you head to the doctor and get an antibiotic to combat the root of your problem – the infection that is causing your symptoms. Perhaps the doctor takes it one step further and recommends you wash your hands often with antibacterial soap, get enough sleep each night and eat a proper diet to help your body's ability to fight off infection before it gains a foothold. Not only have you addressed the root cause of your ailment, but you’ve learned how to prevent it in the future.

It seems people may be aware of the fact that every action has consequences – although that statement could be debated. Assuming people believe it, it troubles me that when the consequences are undesired, people try to fix them one by one. Instead, take a look at the original action. Undue it – if possible. Work to stifle the root cause of the unwanted consequences rather than allowing them to persist with impulsive remediations.

In my profession, there is no end to application designers that have one major skill – they can code. Each and every one of them has two major flaws that counteract their coding magic: they can not code securely and they can not code an application that uses any kind of networking - whatsoever. This leads to shoddy software that performs poorly on networks, opens them to attack and leaves users to complain, "the network is slow". In fact, the network is not "slow", everything is working as it should be. Routing is working, skillfully written applications are working correctly and the one poorly written, hastily deployed application is ruining it for everyone. How to address this?

Should the network operations people deploy application acceleration technologies to compensate for the poorly written application? Should the network operations people now manage a new set of devices and configurations to offset for the poor planning of the application group? Should users learn to live with poor performance? Or instead, should the application group be held accountable? Should the application be pulled from production so it can be reengineered to work optimally across a network? Should the root cause of the network "slowness" be addressed so that no one suffers, or should everyone be brought down a level to that of the poorly performing application?

The correct answer is obvious; however, not the easiest and thus, the path never followed. No one ever said doing the right thing was easy. Proper planning and risk anticipation always fall by the wayside when a highly visible issue requiring "immediate" attention is brought to light. Corners are cut, haste is employed and waste is deployed. In networking, in politics, in personal decisions – this is always the case.

I'm convinced there are only two possible reasons people can not effectively problem solve. First, people are lazy and would rather take the easy way out by addressing the many smaller issues that result from poor decision making. The other more troubling reason – which I think may subconsciously cause the first course of action – is that people don't have advanced problem solving skills. Basic problem solving skills simply involve identifying a problem, formulating a solution and enacting it. The advanced skills include feedback loops and actually learning from successes and failures and I fear this is far beyond the grasp of normal everyday people (it shouldn't be, but I'm afraid it is).

Hazardous situations should be immediately addressed with stopgap measures. Systemic issues require a more holistic approach including analysis and research. Where did the issue come from? What is the root cause? A comprehensive understanding of the issue leads to a detailed plan of action to not only resolve the issue, but also to eliminate the resultant issues – the symptoms people spend so much time fussing over – and prevent future recurrences.

Politicians and lawmakers are probably the guiltiest of these trespasses. Writing new laws to address undesired outcomes of previous legislation is not the correct path. Creating new directives that address shortcomings in civil systems is not fruitful. If drunk driving is an issue, the answer is not to raise the drinking age, but to create stiff penalties for first time offenders and mandatory maximum sentences for repeaters. If high health care premiums are of concern, don't ban smoking and fatty foods, fix the health care system so that smokers and fatties pay more for their habits. Eating bad foods in large quantities is not a disease; however, it does cause disease – heart disease for example. Chronic diseases are much more of a drain on health care dollars than are the occasional X-rays and stitches I may get from mountain biking.

Ultimately, people don't want to be held responsible or liable for any of their actions when in reality, that is precisely what should happen. If you make stupid mistakes, you – not me – should suffer the consequences. If you are genetically predisposed to heart disease, laziness or stupidity, I refuse to help you. As it is your choice to ruin you life or to make the best of it, it is mine to neither watch you do either, nor care about - or much less be responsible for - your consequences.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Security Solutions for Uninterested Users

With the latest concerns of IT security being insider threats and the lack of user participation in security, Single Sign On (SSO) coupled with biometrics may become the most important technologies in securing your network.

The alternatives are rigorous user training on information security and policies that not only enforce, but provide penalties for non-conformance. User security awareness training is not new to the industry, but the seeming unwillingness of users to comply may be. A change in user attitudes towards corporate security may be a task rapidly approaching the impossible.

While network administrators try to mitigate weak user security habits with password controls such as uniqueness and complexity algorithms, these approaches are more counterproductive than beneficial. The more users are required to have complex and changing passwords, the more likely they are to write them down or share them with co-workers to prevent troublesome logons. Complicating matters is the many applications that are moving to web based interfaces that do not integrate with a user's desktop environment. These individual applications require a unique sign on that in many cases differs from the user’s normal username/password combination for desktop access.

While SSO can minimize the user frustration of multiple passwords, it does provide the "keys to the kingdom" if a user's password is compromised. The elimination of the "what you know" form of authentication addresses this.

Biometrics, a form of authentication based on "what you are" – such as a fingerprint or retina scan – is unique per user and does not require the user to remember a complex or changing set of criteria. Single or dual factor biometric authentication methods – such as fingerprint with or without voice recognition – provide a secure, easy authentication method while proving more robust and reducing false positives.

The main hurdle is the cost of deployment. Integrating biometrics into the user desktop logon procedure is not an inexpensive proposition especially with a large install base. Some laptop models provide integrated biometrics in the form of a fingerprint scanner; however, this requires a one-for-one swap of all installed models. Furthermore, the deployment of new applications – either those developed in house or those from external vendors – is seriously limited to applications that support integrated token authorization based on the biometric authentication method.

Still, when weighed against the potential losses of a data compromise, a technically feasible authentication scheme that addresses the crux of the problem – users that do not have the same priority for information security as those enforcing it – is the best approach.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Reach the Beach Relay - 2006

Genetically Challenged - Mixed Open

66/296 - 17/130

Back row from left: Tina (leg 11), Tom (leg 7), Ted (leg 8), Gavin (leg 3), Vince [aka: Me] (leg 1), Suzi (leg 6), Ania (leg 2), Rich [aka: Generalissimo] (Team Captain)

Front row from left: Gabriel [aka: The Janitor] (leg 5), Jody (leg 9), Dan (leg 12), Jodi [aka: Boob] (leg 4), Jul (leg 10), John [aka: Johnny Cisco] (Injured)

NOTE: Start was at Bretton Woods with Leg 1 (mine) being run to the top of the mountain, then back down.

Distance Difficulty Time Pace
Leg 1 3.1 Extremely Hard 24:45 7:59
Leg 13 3.8 Easy 29:51 7:51
Leg 25 8.9 Hard 1:15:05 8:26
15.8 2:09:41 8:13

Monday, September 11, 2006

Reach the Beach 2006: Before

We're getting ready for the RTB Relay 2006. Again with Team Genetically Challenged; however, this year we're a mixed open team and we're missing our captain - Rich. Same as last year what with the last minute drop outs and scrambling to find runners. This year, I'm prepared to run 4 legs if need be. Perhaps ultra next year.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Traffic

I feel sorry for the family of the truck driver that crashed on the highway and closed it down from 1PM well into the afternoon rush hour. I feel sorry for them because even though he is in critical condition, he is going to die. After all, that's the only thing that could justify my spending 2.5 hours on what should have been a 45 minute commute.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Truth About Truth

It's ironic that something called Truth.com can’t actually tell the truth – that is – if you believe "the truth" is the "whole" truth and "nothing but" the truth. Their ads are deliberately misleading to anyone who has an iota of brain cells left. It seems almost hypocritical that their message can only be believed by those people who have smoked too much pot to have any brain cells left to think for themselves.

The perfect example is the commercial where they go into a mattress store and ask if it makes sense to ban sleep because it's dangerous. Apparently, they claim a tobacco executive suggested that "sleep be banned because many people die in their sleep". Perhaps that actually did happen, but FAR more likely is that the tobacco executive was forming an argument against a left-wing communist who was trying to force their anti-smoking agenda on the world rather than letting people decide for themselves. You can image in the interaction was far more like:

Lunatic Fascist: "You have to ban smoking because it kills so many people (whine, cry, complain, etc...)"

Tobacco Executive: "A lot of people die in their sleep. Should we ban sleep?"

Lunatic Fascist: "... Umm ...."

Five minutes later ...

Lunatic Fascist [on phone to Truth.com]: "I just talked to some tobacco executive that said we should ban sleep because people die in their sleep. Let's make a commercial that makes them look dumb and furthers our cause among those ignorant peons who can't think for themselves and need government and political correctness as we define it to rule their lives."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Questions and Answers

Q) Is it "bigotry" for Sandwich, Massachusetts to declare itself NOT a sanctuary for illegal immigrants (in opposition to what Cambridge, Massachusetts has done)?

A) No, it's a free country – for those of us living here legally. Contrary to popular Massachusetts liberal beliefs, there are no rights under the United States Constitution for illegal immigrants. This does not constitute racism or bigotry, it demonstrates and intellectual prowess far above that of the standard liberal; for it means that you can read and correctly interpret the laws that govern this country.

Not being a sanctuary for illegal immigrants does nothing to tarnish the reputation of a locality in regards to acceptance of diversity or immigrants. Notice the keyword: "illegal". Immigrants welcome, illegal immigrants; not so much.

If a county or city – such as Cambridge – decides to be a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants, offering them protections and services, this must be considered an act of treason and since we are currently at war (with Iraq), this must be punishable by death. Therefore, everyone in Cambridge should die.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Ark of Evolution

I think it's quite naive of humans to think they are the top of the evolutionary chain on earth. I recently re-viewed the movie "Deep Impact" which suggest the way to survive a comet impacting the earth is to create a sort of "ark" in which we'll house 1 million people that could repopulate the earth. Granted, this is only a movie – and a bad one at that – but I can't help but wonder if this is how people really think.

Building an "ark" to ensure continuation of the species implies to a certain degree that we created earth for ourselves. Believe in a god or not, there is a "higher power" – nature, mother earth, biology; call it what you will. Unless earth self-destructs into dust, elimination of life may be an impossibility. Life "as we know it" will surely change, but that may not be a bad thing (for the continuation of life itself – for us [read: humans], it sucks).

Ridding earth of humans may be a good think if you believe the latest Al Gore documentary detailing how humans are destroying the earth. Continuation of our species may be terrible for not only us, but for all planetary life. The extinction of humans may be the actual purpose of "global warming"; the thought being that we aren't close to a planetary tipping point, just a tipping point to which survival of humans is not possible. We all die and the planet corrects itself after our countless factories stop spewing their toxic gases into the fragile atmosphere (or something along those apocalyptic sounding lines). Life goes on without us.

The important concept that we seem to be missing is that life does not culminate in humans. The dinosaurs taught us that. At the time, they were the dominant species on the planet. Just because we are now, does not mean that something more advanced cannot come from our destruction.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Questions and Answers

Q) Two guys go to a bachelor party and get blasted. They then move on to a restaurant and continue drinking. They are legally drunk. They leave, drive home, hit some people and kill them. Can the victims' families sue the restaurant owners for criminal negligence?

A) No you stupid ass! Charges can be pressed against the drunk driving guys and that’s it. The restaurant owners did not force feed the guys alcohol. The guys need to take responsibility for themselves. No matter what kind of debaucheries they were engaging in – if they were planning on driving home, they had the responsibility to stay sober enough to do so. Being drunk is not an excuse for your actions. In fact, since it is widely known that drunk driving is illegal and they willingly drove drunk in defiance of the law; the correct answer is that they are subject to the death penalty as this was not an accident.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Site Feed

It took me some time to catch up with the latest blogging trends, but now there is a site feed link to the right of the window enabling an Atom feed for RSS/Atom news aggregators.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tuckerman's Ravine

I finally put the last jewel in my crown of Eastern U.S. skiing this weekend by tackling Tuckerman's Ravine. I've conquered the front four at Stowe, I've skied Mad River Glen, I've jackhammered the bumps on Outer Limits and White Heat. I've even hiked the Ravine in summer but I've always had trouble rounding up some mates to tackle the Ravine in winter. Finally, I could wait no longer, so I took on Tuckerman's on my own.

March 25 was a sunny day, but overcast once I hit the bowl. I did the hike to HoJo's in a bit over an hour. A short rest on the porch for some "fuel"; I donned crampons and headed into the ravine. There were plenty of people watching, much fewer actually doing any climbing or skiing. I figured I'd stay with the crowd rather than head off to the left on my own, so I made my way to Lunch Rocks and up the kicked steps to take on the Lip. I've hear it compared to a Stair-Master before, but in reality, it's more like ladder-master. The climb is ridiculously steep and never ending; and with skis strapped to my back I wasn't moving all too fast. Finally, I crested the lip and followed the cairns to the trail junction where I stopped for a rest, water and to click on my skis.

I started off heading towards the headwall to make the turn around the rocks and brush at the cornice. A few quick turns opened into larger GS turns to control speed. I was able to stop on the relative safety of the 30 degree or so pitch above the Lip for a quick picture aiming down. It doesn't do justice when compared to actually being there; ready to dive into the abyss.

A few more turns down and I was headed into the 40+ degree steeps of the lip. The snow was packed pretty well but not icy; loose enough to send sloughs down with me as I pedal-turned to control speed before I opened into some GS turns that quickly tightened as the steeps relented.

I took the trail down little headwall with a small group - walking some of the impassible parts where the snow opened up to expose Cutler River. I continued down the Sherburne Ski Trail for a quick exit. The last 100 yards were impassable on skis, so I had to hike it back to the parking lot.

Four and half hours of hiking, skiing and some extreme steeps was well worth the price of admission ... free! Not sure if I'll be returning to lift-serviced ski areas any time soon!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Politically Correct Nursery Rhymes

Bah, bah African American sheep, have you any wool ...

Vertically challenged Jack Horner, sat in a corner ...

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a philandering polygamist ...

One little, two little, three little Native Americans ...

There was an aged, single mother who lived in a shoe, she had so many children, she was on government assistance and made use of both food stamps and the WIC program ...

Barber, barber, shave an obese girl ...

Monday, March 20, 2006

IT Roadmap Boston: Part 2

I just finished the afternoon session: "VoIP and Collaboration". Johna Till Johnson started a promising presentation talking about the concept of a Real Time Communications Dashboard (RTCD) which is realized in such products as Microsoft's Live Communications Server and Domino R7. However, the presentation quickly turned more towards convergence deployments instead of collaboration integration. I'm sure some people got something out of it; however, having worked in a converged environment for the past two to three years, I found the topics elementary. Over a year ago, I wrote a white paper describing presence as the driving force behind converged networks. Seeing a presentation slide today saying for the first time, future proofing the network was more of a driver than cost for converged network adoptions was validating on so many levels.

I'm still shocked to see industry analysts and vendors alike still missing the holy grail of convergence - presence. These thought leaders still talk about applications that integrate email, instant messaging and voice; however, the vision of presence as a dial tone shouldn't depend on an application that puts all modes of contact at your fingertips, but rather enables you to use any form of contact based on the preferences of the person you're contacting. This may seem like a semantic argument, but applications today still don't allow the rich presence extensions that users can create to define how they want to be contact, not just how they can be contacted. It should not be my choice of how to contact my "buddy"; rather, I should be his choice of how I should contact him. My user interface should provide the "address of record" contact as my option, not all possible options.

And furthermore, the whole concept of buddies and buddy lists is a holdover from instant messaging. If we're trying to create a new killer application, we should take the best parts of existing ones and add a whole slew of new features. Static buddy lists equate to host lists on computers. They do not scale. We invented DNS to overcome the static host lists. Why would we go backwards now? Creating presence ties into LDAP - the way we dynamically look up contacts for email now - is a much more scalable method. Instant queries of users presence info instead of having to add them to a dynamic list just to see if they're online is the way to design applications that provide instant collaboration.

IT Roadmap Boston: Part 1

The Network World IT Roadmap Boston Conference started off with a fairly motivating and well structured key note by Network World President, John Gallant. He barely missed a beat as his slides disappeared off the main screen signaling the first of a few technology glitches at this technology conference. A quirky remote slide changer was easy to deal with when compared to the fact that the organizers decided wireless access was not a requirement for the conference attendees.

They had the typical giveaways based on expo booth visitations to solicit attendee participation and engagement of the featured vendors hocking their wares. However, denying wireless access didn’t do much (at least for me) in suppressing my urge to get online and not view the expo booths. In fact, it did quite the opposite. I had to conduct a spur of the moment wireless assessment to find an unsecured wireless network on which I could get access and use my VPN to get email. So a tour around the conference floor with laptop and NetStumbler in tow quickly located a suitable service provider.

Back to the conference; the morning session: “Network Management”, was hosted by charismatic presenter Jim Metzler. His presentation wasn’t overly deep in prescient industry trends; however, he keep the audience involved and hosted a very well put together break out that included four industry vendors – none of whom gave a sales and marketing pitch for their specific product.

The main theme was application management as opposed to device management. This is a trend we’ve seen in the industry for a few years now. I’m assuming it’s gaining more front page headlines with the push towards Service Oriented Architectures that bring the application to the fore. However, none of the speakers addressed the growing difficulties in managing application delivery on a network platform that you don’t manage (let alone own) from end to end.

A quick example: take a large international with a global network services group that mainly exists to create policy and strategy but is largely ineffectual due to the disparate local organizations that actually build and run the networks that compose the whole. Add in a healthy (or unhealthy depending on perspective) dose of outsourcing and managed services. Finally, deploy the end to end global service – say videoconferencing – that not only is truly global and requires very precise controls in terms of network configuration and Quality of Service, but is literally very user visible. How does one manage the delivery of that application without an end to end understanding of the intermediate infrastructure and the appropriate agreements between groups to allow a cohesive holistic management of the global service? It isn’t an exercise in network management anymore; it revolves around relationship management. This is something that can’t be solved with a vendor tool.

Off to lunch now, more from the afternoon session coming!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Net Neutrality? Only in Switzerland

I'm a fence sitter when it comes to Net Neutrality. This of course defines the latest battle of technology pundits against the carriers' campaign to realize revenue off the "service" that they provide. The reason I find myself conflicted is because while I agree the Internet should be a common, global network for all to access and can not be regulated by the United States government, I realize (mainly from being in IT myself) that companies providing transport network services need to make money to maintain the very network that I demand free access to.

It's the same battle that IT departments face: do less with more. Users demand more speed and more applications and expect the network to simply handle it. As IT budgets are slashed and qualified technical talent is outsourced, enterprise networks get closer and closer to the edge of unacceptable user community support.

People assume the Internet is an unlimited free tool at their own disposal. This is quite counter-intuitive considering I pay 5 times more for Internet access now than I did with my original dial-up ISP for my 2400 baud modem. However, when people stop receiving a separate bill for an Internet ISP because it's bundled with their cable or phone bill and they have instant online access with cable modems and home wireless routers and the speeds are as fast as when they surf the web at work (on lunch breaks of course), an arrogance of sorts sets in. "The network is there at my beck and call and on a whim I can connect to Google, or download music or shop online or buy and sell at eBay." The thought that "someone" provides the access between my computer and Google or eBay is somewhat transparent and very unclear for people. Everyone has Comcast or Verizon DSL. I'm not positive, but I think it's a safe bet to say that Google isn't connected to the global Internet by Comcast. To the tech savvy, we realize that this means there are other Tier 1 providers that carry my web page requests from the Comcast network through the Internet cloud to the provider that connects Google. These "men in the middle" don't see a dime from me or eBay, yet both eBay and I (through my eBay store front) can make a boat load of cash.

Not to sound like a communist, but I think we're beginning to see the limits of a free market economy. So called "healthy" competition drives prices down and makes consumers happy. But when the price of voice; for example, gets so low that traditional providers can no longer effectively compete, what happens? Do they go out of business like a failed dot com? Who will be interested in buying and maintaining the assets (the network) of a company with a business plan that didn't fail, but rather was undermined by competition from "innovators" who got a free ride?

It may not be realistic to assume all carriers will eventually fail. Indeed, it is up to them to find a profitable business plan. But charging for traffic on their networks can not be eliminated as a possibility.

Take voice for example. As cheap as it is, each call I make is charged to me. I pay a monthly cost for connection and incremental costs per call. Money changes hands between my local and long distance carriers without my knowledge all to sustain dial tone in my house. With new VoIP plans offering unlimited calling for a flat fee, I (and everyone else) is getting unlimited access for a smaller and smaller price to a limited resource that the company selling me the service does not own or control. Kudos to the VoIP services companies that are making a killing in this environment now; the model does not seem to be sustainable.

Jeff Pulver crying that Google should effectively Denial of Service all users attempting to access its site through a BellSouth connection is absurd (VON Magazine, March 2006). The real worry is an Internet wide Denial of Service - not by some script kiddies running a bot network, but by the service providers themselves. After all, it is their network. Imagine a worldwide shutdown of the Internet for a day by key service providers as a demonstration. That would put all of us in our place and show us who really "owns" the Internet.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Analogies

"Undocumented Worker" is to "Illegal Alien" as:

"Undocumented Dining" is to "Leaving without Paying the Check"

I just need to go to the rest room. Leave the check on the table, I'll get it when I come back.

"Undocumented Driver" is to "Driving without a License"

No sir, I wasn't driving without a license or even on a suspended license. I'm just an undocumented driver.

"Undocumented Transaction" is to "Stealing"

I know I don't have a receipt for this item that I took from your store without paying. That's because I made an undocumented transaction.

"Undocumented Withdrawal" is to "Bank Robbery"

Stick 'em up. I'm not robbing your bank, I'm just making an undocumented withdrawal.

"Undocumented Death" is to "Murder"

I realize that you may say I murdered this dead body since I'm not a doctor and there is no death certificate and I'm fleeing the scene. However, don't worry, it's just an undocumented death.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Death to Death Penalty Protesters

I was outraged to hear cheering in the background while a CNN reporter told us that the execution of Michael Morales was indefinitely postponed due to a question of whether lethal injection is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. This to defend a degenerate who confessed to the premeditated killing of the beautiful 17 year old Terri Winchell by smacking her with a hammer 23 times, raping her, stabbing her in the heart four times and leaving her half naked body in a vineyard to die.

The question regarding cruel and unusual punishment is a ridiculous ruse to masquerade a liberal agenda to wholly eliminate capital punishment. The argument that killing as a punishment has no place in a civilized society misses the issue that criminals of this magnitude are themselves not civilized and therefore have no place in a civilized society. Extermination, as anyone would exterminate a roach infestation, is the only course of action.

This is certainly not the poster boy for the elimination of capital punishment. Hopefully, my outrage will be paralleled by the fence sitters and bring them to the "right" side.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Animated Response to New Prison Pics

It was only a matter of time before the news media made a hypocrite of itself (yet again).

After originally publishing the somewhat disturbing pictures from Abu Ghraib, a (relatively) small backlash from the Muslim community ensued and shockwaves were sent through the current administration. Great job – you've made the Bush administration looks like the prisoners – caught with their pants down.

Fast forward (or rewind, depending on perspective) to February 2006 when Danish cartoonists publish *cartoons* (not real pictures mind you, just cartoons) of the prophet Mohammed in some questionable scenarios. An Armageddon of sorts is unleashed by the enraged worldwide Muslim community. In an effort to practice "responsible journalism" (read: censorship), most major US media outlets decide not to publish the cartoons.

While the iron is still hot on this story (undoubtedly from the burning embassies worldwide), shocking new Abu Ghraib pictures are found and promptly published as front page news on major US news web sites.

Is there a double standard here? The US media chooses to practice responsible journalism it seems only when the current administration is not involved. However, whenever there is the remotest chance to skewer the sitting president, ethics be damned. Are religious cartoons really more devastating than visceral images of prisoners in all sorts of supposed torturous situations? It seems the US media believes Americans are not able to make that decision. They choose to let the Muslim community make that choice: cartoon image of religious icon over fellow flesh and blood, suffering human beings any day of the week – "and twice on Sundays".

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl XL Halftime

Now I remember why I hate the Rolling Stones. That was awful. The only thing more exciting than the famous "wardrobe malfunction" would have been a pace-maker malfunction.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Supreme Conspiracy Theory

I'm watching "The Pelican Brief", a movie from 1993 (that I must say I'm quite fond of) that chronicles the adventures of Darby Shaw (played by Julie Roberts), a law student in Tulane University that writes a theory on the assassinations of two Supreme Court justices.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

If you haven't seen "The Pelican Brief" and intend to do so, do not read any further!

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

In short, it turns out that Darby's theory for the assassinations of the Supreme Court justices is based on the desire of the "bad guy" to replace the justices when he can predict their replacements. In other words, the "bad guy" was a major campaign contributor to the president (in the movie) and as such, "wants" a favor when it comes to lifetime federal court appointments.

Hmm, I wonder why this somewhat forgotten movie from 1993 becomes the prime time draw 13 years later?

Friday, January 27, 2006

War for [Insert Object Here]

Now that I have fully discovered the vast right-wing conspiracy regarding the current war in Iraq, I must disclose the truth to all that have been duped into believing the blatant outright lies. This goes much deeper than President Bush, even further back than his father. All the way to World War II in fact!

Back in 1941, American's were just coming out of the depression and they had insatiable needs to drive around in fancy luxury cars. American car makers couldn't deliver, but German cars were highly revered. We invaded Germany not to stop Hitler, but in reality, to secure BMW's for Americans. WW II was a war for automobile superiority.

Now that BMW has chased all other car makers into the development of gas guzzling SUV's, it logically follows that we greedy Americans must satisfy our desires to drive with superfluous gallons of oil. Hence, the war in Iraq; a war for oil to power the cars that we plundered from Germany back in the mid 40's. Can anyone or anything stop the relentless push of American consumerism which drives our imperialism?

What's next, invade Siberia in a war for snow that we can export to mountain resorts for year round skiing to combat global warming?
 

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