Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hello! Um, the President admitted to criminal behavior

I know that all of the liberal blogs have picked up on this, but I'm amazed at the reaction to the admission that Bush has been spying on Americans. Folks. Let me put this to you in the most simple terms that I can:

  • The New York Times caught the President illegally wiretapping Americans without a warrant. A crime under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It also proves that in addition to committing a criminal act, he lied to the American people.
  • The President went on national television several times and said the equivalent of "Hell yeah, I did it, and I'll do it again!" He even managed to accuse the people who brought his crime to light of treason.
  • Bush claimed that by giving him the authority to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress apparently absolved him of the submitting to the rule of law--which they cannot do, implictly or explicitly, because it's in the Constitution that the President must follow the rule of law (Article II: Section 3).

Hmm, this time, it doesn't seem that anyone "can't recall" a la Reagan, and it sure as hell doesn't depend on what the meaning of "is" is. The President of the the United States went on national television, repeatedly, and said that he committed a crime, and will continue to do so. To put this in perspective it's like:

  • Nixon saying "I AM a crook--deal with it"
  • Reagan saying "Well (pause) I did ignore Congress and ship arms to Iran to fund the Contras. Kiss my ass!"
  • Clinton saying--"I DID have sex with that woman. I liked it. And I'd do it again!"

This is truly the lowest point of a LOW LOW LOW time. Bush claims that the illegal wiretaps are "effective." This is the stupidist thing I've ever heard! Of course you'll get more information if you can place everyone under surveillence. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany had EFFECTIVE secret police--that doesn't make it right--or American.

--Tinfoil Out

Monday, December 19, 2005

More new technology

So, we went to the Microsoft Tent Sale a while ago, and accidentally bought a wireless network adapter for our Xbox. We also accidentally bought a 12 month membership to Xbox Live (and we accidentally bought 4 games too, but that's hardly surprising). Everything was about 80%-off retail, so who could resist.

This created an interesting problem . . . we don't have wireless Internet in our house.

Hmmm . . .

So I went to Fry's and accidentally bought a wireless router. Well I was there, I also accidentally put a wireless mp3 bridge into my cart. I also, accidentally brought home my laptop from work, and now we magically have many wireless devices, and music in our living room. It's a bit fun.

I'm happy with our new acquisitions, but I will say one thing about Xbox Live. It's a great online gaming service, and the membership comes with a little headset that allows you to talk to your opponent while you play. This sounds like a great concept, unless you don't know anyone else who has Xbox Live. In my case, it was something akin to making random long distance phone calls and having to talk to someone for 45 minutes while playing them in football or basketball. Once, I was greeted with the statement "whooo. That was a big drink of Bacardi!" and then got to hear badly sung sexually explicit lyrics and conversations with people off mic about who was sleeping with whom. I also encountered many little children (who, of course, kicked my ass), which made me think . . . Xbox live may be the best tool for child endangerment ever invented. Mercifully, many people play without speaking--as you can turn your mic off. I have to say, though, that I prefer the suspension of disbelief that comes from thinking that I am playing some sort of uber-gamer, instead of a 12 year old or a drunken teenager.

--Tinfoil Out

Friday, December 16, 2005


Sparky died tonight. He couldn't walk without a wobble, he'd lost 8 of his 15 pounds, and he didn't want to do anything but eat (a little), be held, and lie on the heating pad that we bought for him. It was time. The cancer had spread pretty much everywhere, and there wasn't anything that we could do to make him better.

Sparky moved in in 2003, and the only thing we had in common is that we were both total losers. I had just lost my job, and he was a 12 year-old cat who was about to be put down because he was a nusiance to a cranky hypochondriac neighbor in his native Salt Lake City. He'd already survived being crushed in a garage door when he was 4 years old, and he seemed like a great candidate for a second chance. Mikelle offered to take in the crusty ol' cat, whom she had acquired from a shelter in her 20's saying that "he wanted to get out of that cage more than anyone else." Mikelle's parents brought him up to us, and, orignally we were going to keep him in the garage and let him have access to the outside, as he was primarily an outdoor cat in Utah.

Apparently, this was not the arrangement that he had in mind. Within a few days, he was very happy indoors thank you very much (we have the torn up weatherstripping on the door to the garage to prove it), and every day, for the eleven months I was unemployed, he was my constant companion: Sitting on my lap through back-to-back episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and sitting quietly on the floor of the home office while I sent out resumes until he decided to alert me that I needed a break by jumping up on the keyboard. When Mikelle would get home, he'd sit on my lap as we watched TV, at night, he'd sleep at the foot of the bed, or on particularly cold nights, under the covers.

Sometimes, when he was hungry, he'd employ the vicious "cold cat nose" technique, where he'd climb on top of me while I was sleeping and stand nose-to-nose, purring constantly, until I woke up to a widescreen view of Sparky's face. I eventually learned to anticipate these attacks, and would put a pillow on my face, thus leading him to attack Mikelle instead. If there was no nose available to attack, he'd generally lie quietly at the foot of the bed and try again in a few minutes.
Despite my love for Sparky, we did one incredibly cruel thing to him. We bought a rotten dog named Fergus. Fergus and Sparky got along "OK." Sparky was an old vetrean when it came to dogs, and he completely understood the pug thing. Still--he now had an energetic challenger for lap time, and a really annoying, un-asked-for playmate. Still, he was a good sport and played along.

If he had frustrations about Fergus, he definitely took them out on the neighbor cats. We live in a neighborhood with many, many outdoor cats, and every so often, one of them would make the mistake of venturing into Sparky's territory. Let's just say that Tony Soprano has nothing on Sparky. One time I stepped out of the back door to see Sparky, with a cute fluffy grey kitty that he'd cornered. They were just staring at each other, but I knew Sparky's rep, so I started over there. This apparently spooked the poor grey Kitty so much that it bolted over the fence, with Sparky in hot pursuit. The next things I heard were the "cat fight" noises from the Warner Bros. cartoons. Sparky came back later, unharmed, but with lots of grey hair under his claws. Later, one late night, the cat came within view of our back door, stepped into the light, and I could see that he was shaved on one side with lots of stitches. It was a ghostly image, like Jacob Marley, warning other cats not to be like him . . .

His crowning moment as a combat kitty came two summers ago, when a 2 year old semi-ferral cat that we called "black nose" (for obvious reasons) came onto the landscaping bridge in our back yard (seen here patrolled by the Fergus and Sparky brigade). You could almost hear the gunslinger music, and watch the tumbleweeds fly across the lawn. Although Blacknose outweighed Sparky by at least 5 pounds (and Sparky was a big cat) and was at least 10 years younger, Sparky sent his sorry ass in to the pond. Blacknose never attempted that kind of incursion, ever again.

As my father-in-law pointed out, even in Sparky's golden years, he could "still kick ass." And he could. As recently as this summer, I saw Sparky in "that pose" out the front window. I couldn't see the poor cat that he had cornered, but I could see, that when the claws started flying, tufts if grey hair flew in the air, and a different grey kitty took off across the street.

In the last few months, he'd lost a lot of weight. We thought it was because we'd changed his food, but it wasn't. Eventually, I had to let my best friend go. We buried him tonight in the place that he loved to sit in the sunshine, away from annoying pugs. He loved the sun, and always found a way to find the last rays. Many times, he'd find a patch of warm grass and make a day of it (pictured here). He just couldn't get enough. And if you walked anywhere near him, he'd roll over an shamelessly ask for a belly-rub. Mikelle has often told me that I "ruined a perfectly good tomcat." But I think that Sparky was always comfortable with his "feminine side", and he enjoyed people, frankly, more than I do. I remember a friend asking "does he scratch?" before petting him, and I thought that this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. Sparky LOVED people. Reportedly, the only time he every bit or scratched anyone was before my time, when he was stuck in that garage door 10 years ago.

Sparky was a great cat. He saved my life when I felt most alone and afraid and my life was out of control. He was my best friend and I will miss him. And I think, that I can say without reservations that there is a wife and a rotten pug who feel the same way. Sparky--Thank you.

--Tinfoil Out

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Lost" on demand

I reached an important media milestone last night. Mikelle and I realized that we had missed last week's episode of Lost becasue we were travelling for Thanksgiving, so we downloaded last week's episode for $1.99 from iTunes and watched it on our computer (we don't have a video iPod). All in all, I would say that it was a very satisfying experience. The quality was good, there were no commercials, and I felt like two bucks was a fair price.

There are lots of shows that I would consider downloading if I missed an episode. Lost, 24, Battlestar Galactica, etc. I know that I could just buy a Tivo and record all of them, but I like this option better. If all tv shows were available for $2.00 a pop, I might download, say 10 in a year. $20 seems like a small price to pay to not have to wait for the re-run or the DVD.

When ABC announced that it would release its shows on iTunes, Mark Cuban had some great insights. He pointed out that the economics of TV could change fundamentally if consumers paid for the shows that they wanted to watch, and that for some shows, especially those that are early in their run, they might make more money and build more of a fan base through downloads. It also gives fans of a show a more tangible way to show their appreciation that ratings or ad dollars.

Obviously, this all becomes more appealing if I can download a show to my (not yet acquired) HDTV in my living room, and watch it whenever I want. We're a few steps away from that, but gettting closer.

--Tinfoil Out