October 29, 2003

Happy Halloween, no one home to give out candy

Management regrets that Mr. Pollak shall be donning his black sexy Coat of Awesomeness and heading up north to New Hampshire for the quasi-holiday weekend. I'm updating my links page as a final act before shutting down the computer for the week, so if you're really bored of killing off dancing beavers you can visit some of my favorites to tide you over until I get back.

Posting and e-mail access shall be light to non-existant until about Monday morning, as I take in the warmth and culture of Dartmouth College and it's legacy of enlightened intellectualism. Any Dartmouthers who wanna say hi if they see me around the campus are more than welcome to. I'll be the one person in the greater Hanover area without alcohol on his breath.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:36 PM

Donald Luskin should have his mouth filled with carpenter's spackle and smacked repeatedly in the face with a dead fish.

Jesus, what a douche. I mean, the libel suit is just random tantrum crap, but the threats of exposing someone's private personal information because you're having a shit-fit is just obnoxious and pathetic.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:31 PM

Squeeeeeeee!

Look who got added to Cursor's blogroll.

Eh, I'm a dork.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:08 PM

New comic - "Victim-Girl News Star Halloween!"

Large Format - 800px, 100K

Small Format - 600px, 60K

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:35 AM

Moment of poignant randomness

Via my brother's Instant Messenger profile:

I cry everytime i watch the iron giant. if you don't, kill yourself. it wont matter much, cause you're dead inside already.
Indeed.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:03 AM

October 28, 2003

Painfully Sarcastic Optimism Theatre

Well, at least they didn't kill the actual mayor of Baghdad! Enh? Enh?

Well, at least they're only cutting off one of his hands in the reformed Afghanistan! Huh? Yeah?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:07 PM

The increasing difficulty in not loving Al Sharpton

Here's Monday night's Hardball transcript. It's sad that we live in a generally ignorant nation; were it not for that, and had he a massive increase in personal humilty, the right cabinet could make this guy a pretty damn good president.

God help me, I actually just said that. The interview was that good:

MATTHEWS: Do you think that George Bush is right now-right now the real president of the United States? You haven�t answered my question. Is he legitimately the president of the United States?

SHARPTON: I think I said the election was not legitimate. He was...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is he a legitimate president of the United States right now?

SHARPTON: Well, the election was not legitimate. The fact is that he can call troops out. He is sitting in office.

MATTHEWS: Should he have an asterisk next to his name in the history books, not really president? Is that what you mean? I�m serious.

SHARPTON: He should have an asterisk that the election that he had was questionable at best. And that is why he only served one term, in fact.

My favorite quote of the night comes a little bit later... I think I might vote for any candidate who makes a campaign slogan out of "don't confuse people that have a job with political experience."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:01 PM

October 27, 2003

"Silly Caucasian boy wants to play with Japanese electronics..."

I just finished doing horrible things to my Super Nintendo. It started acting up the other day during my six hundredth pursuit of the Paladin Shield, which added up means I've wasted somewhere around an entire two out of the 22 years of my life playing Final Fantasy III.

So after it kept blanking out, screwing up on loading, and refusing to respond to a cleaning tool (yes, I am in fact one of those nerds who actually bought a Nintendo claening kit, which consists really of some sponge pads and a squeeze tube of alcohol labeled "special cleaning formula") it coughed on on last time, long enough only to tell me it erased on of my game files.

This was, of course, unacceptable, and as such I set off to open up the Nintendo and see if it had a loose wire or, most likely, a problem with eleven years of dust accumlated inside it.

The problem, now, is that Nintendo assembled these damn things with custom screws and brackets. The tool required to open a Super Nintendo exists only in Japan, at the Nintendo factory, and those who made the tools have sworn an oath to never again make "something that opens Nintendos."

Kill Bill is the greatest movie ever. Anyway.

So I went for the next logical solution, which was, if I can't take the screws out of the console case, then I should just sit on the couch while watching TV and spend an hour and a half snapping the plastic casing off the entire unit until I'm turned my living room into a complete mess. In this, I have succeeded. I can say with no ego that this is the finest mess I have ever made out of a video game system.

Pictures here. The punchline to this is that the hollowed-out shell of my Super Nintendo now works perfectly.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:01 PM
Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:32 AM

October 26, 2003

Registered mail

I wrote last week on my indignation over the rationales given by the vast majority who disapprove of the California law recently passed allowing driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. I've neglected the pair of e-mails sitting in my inbox for too long so I'm going to print them both here with, albeit in disagreement, my comments.

From Bob Rouse:

I agree that the rationale being used to reverse the law is stupid. However, the law itself may be a bad idea (I don't know all of the particulars). The key word in the term "illegal immigrants" is "illegal". I would hope that a key requirement to granting driver's licenses would be to begin the process of proper immigration. That is: they should be required to get proper documentation (green cards, or whatever), pay income taxes, etc. The idea has been floated here in GA (particularly in my county, which has a large immigrant population), with the "pros" discussing the need for car insurance, and the "cons" reminding everyone that they are "illegal" immigrants, not documented "legal" immigrants. In most areas of the country, the driver's license is used as the basis of ID for getting any other number of services. In lieu of a passport, it is often used as proof of citizenship, where "legal" proof is not required. They become defacto citizens of this country, without living up to the requirements that the rest of us (and our immigrant forefathers) had to. Again, I don't know the particulars of the law, but I think that the talk of "terrorists" masks the real problem with this type of legislation.
To be blunt, this common argument is one that falls into the category of "irrelevant." The argument that "giving illegal immigrants means you can't know if a CA driver's license proves citizenship" is a blatant straw man: with this law, CA driver's licenses simply are no longer acceptable forms of citizenship. QED. If alterting people to this seems hard, keep in mind the government spends tens of millions of dollars to let you know twenty-dollar bills are now pink.

That doesn't mean terrorists have an advantage. It means Americans living in California have a disadvantage- a disadvantage limited to the fact that Social Security numbers, birth certificates, passports, blood donor cards, Federal IDs, and tax forms are all, of course, still perfectly acceptable proofs of American citizenship. Other than, as I mentioned last week, the ones that a terrorist can get fakes of... just like they could irregardless of this new law.

Also mentioned before is the apparently mind-racking concept that perhaps, just maybe, the California DMV might consider the ludicrous notion of clearly indicating if the person holding a license is a citizen or not. After research, I have been told that this may require techniques as high-tech as different colors or, should state budget permit, finding a way to write "NON-CITIZEN" in block lettering somewhere on the card. Clearly, this is a crisis of epic proportions.

From Michael Kohne:

I thought you might like a valid reason for opposing these laws:

The law allowing an illegal immigrant to get a drivers license helps that person to continue to avoid immigration laws. It helps them get around, but it does NOTHING to actually get them the citizenship they (obviously) desire. Therefore, it makes them more capable in our society, while preserving their illegal status. It's somewhat of a backhanded way to try to modify the immigration laws without actually modifying the immigration laws.

I believe this is wrong because it puts off fixing the immigration laws. If a large enough number of people believe that there is an issue with immigration law, then we should fix the immigration law, not find ways to sleeze around it.

As background, I'll personally say that I think our immigration policies need to be loosened up somewhat - I read far too much about one company or another exploiting illegals for their gain, while the immigrant gets screwed. Much better to let those folks into the country legally, so that they can go to the authorities if their employer gives them the short end of the stick.

You want to give illegals drivers licenses? I say NO. Let them immigrate instead and then get a license normally.

Ultimately, this argument makes sense, however in the same way those against Affirmative Action argue "true equality means no one gets special treatment."

Mike has a valid opinion which I support: what would be best is if the immigration policy simply made it easier for immigrants to become citizens, thus negating the need for pre-emptive licenses. However, if the argument is that licenses help terrorists, exactly how is making citizenship easier to obtain a detriment to terrorism?

The reason, however, that this concept is impossible is because of this part of Mike's comment: If a large enough number of people believe that there is an issue with immigration law, then we should fix the immigration law, not find ways to sleeze around it. The problem is, of course, that sleazing around the law is what the people who care about the laws want.

The reason illegal immigrants exist in this country, as noted sarcastically in one of Ted Rall's recent cartoons, is because California thrives on it. Since the recall, we've been saturated with the "Fifth Largest Economy in the World™" message... a statement eerily similar to high school history when we're reminded what we did for a few hundred years to make the United States the most prosperous nation on earth.

America exists because of an industrial mentality that accepts the blatantly obvious: the largest profit in manual labor is obtained through the lowest means of labor cost. Amazingly, as a nation that wouldn't even suggest in modern times the benefits of slavery, we scorn immigrants who are paid nearly nothing as detrimental to "progress." Call it simplistic, but it's the truth: slavery is gone, so California turns to the next-cheapest alternative.

My point is that California, and moreover the government, continues to give zero percent of a damn about illegal immigrants. The only things illegals do are contribute to the lower-class industry of aforementioned Fifth-Largest Yada Yada, raise the profit margin for insurance companies, and serve as the scapegoat for everyone else's problems. Giving licenses to illegals legitimazes their work abilty, enables them at a faster pace, and ultimately streamlines their potential to citizenship: a notion that means minimum wage, an electoral voice, and thusly, a situation the commerce of California is scared shitless over. And here we are claiming they're worried about Al-Qaeda.

I appreciate the feedback, but I reiterate my point: this law does not, in any way whatsoever, make it easier for terrorists to slip into the country. It does, however, focus attention on the platforms of politicians who want to talk about how illegals are bad while doing nothing to actually curb its hazards. It does, however, actually increase the safety of both citizens and immigrants on California roads and decrease the insurance costs of the state. It does, however, distract people from the countless ways terrorists can, and continue to be able to, slip into this country, that no one seems to have any interest in complaining about anymore.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:04 AM