The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator
 

Archive for August, 2005

More Katrina Blogging

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

With the Katrina bloggothon scheduled for tomorrow, I’m putting my post up a little bit early. My suggestion is donating to the Houston Food Bank, especially on news that Gov. Perry has decided to help out by allowing refugees from the Superdome to move to the Astrodome.

The food bank’s specific Katrina page can be found here, directions for those in the Houston area and surrounds can be found here. Send money, volunteer if you can. I’ll be sending them a donation just as soon as my direct deposit hits the bank tonight.

Thanks for helping, everyone affected will surely appreciate it.

Tireless Katrina blogging (and relief info)…

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

…can be found here:

The Irish Trojan’s Blog
WWL TV

And then there’s this.

Seriously, though, the Katrina aftermath is breathtaking. Stranger and more horrific than fiction, it’s got me slack-jawed and sleepless. I think I’ll be chipping in on the relief efforts as best I can, and I hope you do too. Here are some notions:

Red Cross
Mercy Corps (I gave to Mercy Corps after the Asian tsunami and felt quite satisfied about what they did with it and how they followed up.)
Salvation Army
Catholic Charities
Humane Society (Remember, quite aside from concern for saving pets and such, drowned animals pose a considerable human health risk.)

All so serious for the OC blog, but what else can we do? GGW is at stake here.

“Be on the lookout for suspects wearing heavy no clothing”

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Question: Last month, what did interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta tell FBI brass was the Department of Justice’s top priority for law enforcement?

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

Wrong!

[I]t’s obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections.

According to Acosta, obscenity prosecutions are a top priority of his boss, Attorney General Alberto “I’ve Got The Right Initials” Gonzales. It’s an obsession I’m alarmed to learn Gonzales shares with his predecessor, a giant goldfish whose name escapes me.

Now, I acknowledge (before you bring it up again, Olly) that few, if any, Attorneys General are going to walk on sunshine in the eyes of civil libertarians, and much of the rap they get is merely for enforcing laws it is their job to enforce. And admittedly that is the case here: obscenity is, yes, illegal subject to prohibition.

But every prosecutor has an enormous amount of discretion, as they have neither the resources nor, I’d guess, the inclination to prosecute every crime that is on the books.

And the truly bad A’sG are bad not because they enforce laws per se, but because they choose to enforce the wrong ones at the wrong times. Here, at a time when we are faced with terrorism and a bit of a rash of severely injurious white collar crime, two consecutive Attorneys General look across the national criminal landscape and decide that obscenity is our most pressing problem. They would rather chill protected speech and crack down on a highly prosperous and harmless national industry (with little likely effect — it’ll go offshore and still be right here at our fingertips) than tackle real criminal problems.

It’s a bad time for free speech.

(Fairness and balance addendum: I suppose I’m glad they didn’t choose to prioritize narcotics or immigration, but it doesn’t mean things’ll get any easier on those fronts.)

(hAT-tIP: bOING bOING.)

3 AM UPDATE below the fold

My own nitpicky ass made me change obscenity’s stated legal status from “illegal” to “subject to prohibition” because that is the constitutional status of obscenity. States may prohibit it, although the Supreme Court is pretty tough on bans on mere possession; and the federal government prohibits a lot of activities surrounding the movement of obscenity in interstate commerce — which of course means obscenity created, distributed or possessed by anyone anywhere.

BTW, a cursory Lexis search of the US Code gives us the following federal obscenity crimes. If many of them seem redundant, remember, this is Congress.

-Customs Officers aiding importation of obscene or treasonous books and articles

-Possession with intent to sell, and sale, of obscene matter on Federal property

-Mailing obscene or crime-inciting matter

-Importation or transportation of obscene matters

-Broadcasting obscene language

-Transportation of obscene matters for sale or distribution

-Engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matter

-Obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children

-Distributing obscene material by cable or subscription television

-Transfer of obscene material to minors

-Importing, Mailing, or Transporting Obscene Matter

-Transferring Obscene Matter to a Minor; Misleading Domain Names

-Obscene Telephone Communications for a Commercial Purpose

-Broadcasting Obscene Material

-Obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign communications

-Obscene programming

War On Spam

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I installed the newest version of Blacklist that will work with our MT install, that should hold us out for now. If I get time I’m going to go through the SQL that holds the 600+ posts and close all the comments. Then I’ll upload that and leave the default to allow comments on new posts. I’m hoping that’ll work all right, but I’ll keep you cats posted, provided my head doesn’t explode.

That Sound You Hear In The Distance Is Tim’s Head Exploding

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Consecutive Hit & Run posts first observe the phenomenon, then warn of its potential arrival in Oregon: a cap on gas prices.

Actually, the Consumer Affairs piece isn’t terribly damning; all it says is

Politicians in Michigan, Oregon, California, New York and Connecticut have publicly debated and talked about price regulation.

But the cap in Hawaii seems to be very real.

Well now. What could possibly go wrong?

Rustic Welcome Wagon (Slightly Belated)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I clearly haven’t been paying enough attention. The ODE blog revolution has been underway for the past week.

Unfortunately, they preempt any snotty comments I might have made by opening proceedings with a gracious shout-out. Steve Neuman, this year’s online editor, even works in a nice rip on former ODE honcho Mike Kleckner. This is alarming: if the ODE is going to make a habit of criticizing itself, a rich source of material will be compromised.

Meanwhile, In Merry Ol’ England…

Monday, August 29th, 2005

A school is allowing students to drop five F-bombs per day. Six? Well that’s just taking things too far.

“Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score,” he wrote in the letter.

“Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson.”

The school, which has 1,130 pupils, also plans to send “praise postcards” to the parents of children who do not swear in class.

A very Ned Flanders way of dealing with the problem.

“Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home”

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

It now appears that the levees protecting The City that Care Forgot are in extreme danger of breaking upon the arrival of Category 5 Hurricane Katrina. People in New Orleans have always joked about how the city’s end would come about not from war, but instead from the inability of humankind to defend against God’s wraith. Indeed, since 1971 the perfect ending track for any New Orleans-themed mix tape has been Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks.’ But what was once in the distant, unforseen future now appears to be quite real and immediate. This storm appears to be The Real Thing. Winds are sustaining around 165 (down from 175,) but more importantly gusts are well over 200 and the barometric pressure within the eye of the storm (902mb) is nearly equal to that of Camille, which caused massive damage yet didn’t even hit the city directly. It appears extremely likely that there will be quite a bit of flooding, even if the most conservative damage estimates are true.

Anyways, I apologize for the LiveJournalesque posting, but most of my extended family lives in the New Orleans area. I’ve been unable to contact them today thanks to filled cell-phone circuits and the fact that thankfully they all appear to be away from their land lines. I know that part of my family is staying in the downtown Hilton, others in Texas, but most I’m unsure about. Hopefully my calls will go through sometime tonight.

Enough rambling. Here are some random links for those of you interested in following this terrible storm:
WWL TV Feed (local CBS station, good news coverage)
Weather.com Vulnerable Cities: New Orleans
Weather.com Animated Radar Map
Weather.com Katrina Projected Path
Weather.com Local NOLA Weather
FLHurricane.com
The Times-Picayune (website working sporadically at best)

UPDATE: New Orleans Mayor Nagin is on WWL and is saying that if there’s a direct hit it will likely take two weeks to drain the city of all of the flood water. God only knows what sort of problems that could cause. Additionally, 25-30% of all domestic oil production flows through New Orleans, so oil prices throughout the country will likely skyrocket if things get bad. This is a national emergency. Also, this SOB storm is filling up over half of the gulf:
top.kat.animate.0945.gif

Update by Michael G.: Quick links to useful information:

Own a Little Bit of John Cleese

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

A nasty bit, that is.

All my rowdy friends have settled with the Attorney General

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Time was, Jim Morrison had to resort to pulling out his Lizard King to get in trouble on stage. Now it’s come to this:

Country music’s “Redneck Woman” promises to keep her can of Skoal in her back pocket from now on. Tennessee’s attorney general had asked Gretchen Wilson not to pull out a can of smokeless tobacco during performances of her new song “Skoal Ring” because it glamorized tobacco use.

A warning letter said the routine might violate the 1998 tobacco settlement, which forbids tobacco ads targeting young people.

Attorney General Paul Summers said the singer’s representative apologized Friday and said Wilson would not use the Skoal can in concert again. It was not used at a Cincinnati concert Thursday night, his office said.

“I appreciate Ms. Wilson’s attitude,” Summers said in a news release. “I thank her very much. This quick and positive response speaks well of her as a professional artist, as a good citizen, as a parent and as a role model for youth.”

Yes, you are a good citizen and role model if you willingly forego an aspect of your persona when the Tennessee AG says to, and surrender your free expression to an agreement banning certain advertisements even if your behavior could only tenuously come under the ban and you aren’t a paid endorser. That’s just sad. WWBD?

Meanwhile, in India . . .

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

The quest for hearts and minds presses on:

Rebels in India’s north-eastern state of Tripura are making pornographic films to raise money for their separatist campaign, officials say.

HuffingP: JUST IN

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

STOP THE PRESSES

just_in_huffpo.gif

Incoming Freshmen Grew Up With Starbucks

For this year’s crop of college freshmen, Starbucks has always been around the corner, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has always been on the air, and men named George Bush have been president for more than half of their lives.

Born in 1987, the freshmen attending their first college lectures around the country this term grew up with pay-per-view television and voice mail on their phones, dirty dancing at school proms, and the United States as the only superpower.

-HUFFINGP, AOL NEWS, AND AP REPORTING

Developing…

PayPal: Tchotchkes, Yes. Chips, No.

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

The always excellent Radley Balko has an interesting new article over at Reason which looks into PayPal’s shedding of its founding libertarian ideals. Competitors, crooks, regulatory hell, and an eventual takeover all contributed to what PayPal is today: a horrible, unfriendly, bug-ridden service that won’t allow its users to play at online casinos, post controversial-yet-newsworthy videos, or sell a number of perfectly legal things.

Shooting Dr. Messenger

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Another blow taken by the medical profession, this time from a whiny you-hurt-my-fragile-feelings type. As reported by MSNBC: Doctor in trouble for calling patient obese.

So, just what is it that he said? Surely he used words you wouldn’t expect a medical doctor to say! Well, actually, what the whole story boils down to is that this doctor had a complaint filed against him for using the term ‘obese’ to describe the medical condition a woman had. She was, well, obese.

I told a fat woman she was obese, Bennett says. I tried to get her attention. I told her, ‘You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.'”

So, this doctor is trying to do his job and tell this woman what her situation is, and even tries to convince her that fixing the problem could save her life. And he didn’t even say “hey, you’re a fattie who needs to put the fork down before you drop dead when your heart explodes”, which, of course, would have been worthy of a complaint.

Instead of insulting her, he tells the simple truth after he diagnoses her medical condition. He tells her what it is without beating around the bush and resorting to euphemisms that de-emphasize her condition, and she’s offended? The doctor didn’t make her obese. If she’s offended, she ought to be offended by the person who made her fat.

As more complaints like this are taken seriously, less people are going to want to go into the medical profession. As we know, there are already some medical specialties that are harder and harder to find practitioners of. This really doesn’t help.

What would help is for people to stop whining.

Starving Vegans are Good for Oregon

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

As seen in an article on CNN.com:

The percentage of Americans with bulging waistlines is growing in just about every state, with residents of Alabama joining the obesity ranks the fastest. Only Oregon failed to fatten, according to a report released Tuesday.

The sheer number of tofu-tarians around Eugene and Portland could easily account for this. Just walk into a place like 5th Street Public Market or anywhere else where they have a few shops that sell lots of non-animal products and take a look around. Go to one of our fine vegan restaurants, cafes, and grocery stops, and observe. You’ll find it’s hard to tell some vegans from famine-stricken third-world citizens. Some are ultra skinny with sunken eyes, and carry facial expressions that convey a state of malnutrition-induced lethargy.

Thanks, vegans, for helping Oregon stay skinny!