April 9, 2005

I rule!

Heh. I created a blog term. Cool.

As compensation, I ask only that Ezra start spelling my last name correctly, dammit. ;)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:19 PM

April 8, 2005

It's like winning "Blog of the Year," only it's credible and relevant

Dan Rather and CBS won the Peabody Award for their coverage of the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Golly, it's almost as if PowerLine didn't actually take down an entire news network. But that would mean their weblog is inaccurate! That makes no sense!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:09 PM

Truly, the most dangerous man in America

Spammer sentenced to nine years in prison:

A Virginia judge sentenced a spammer to nine years in prison Friday in the nation's first felony prosecution for sending junk e-mail, though the sentence was postponed while the case is appealed.

Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas Horne said that because the law targeting bulk e-mail distribution is new and raises constitutional questions, it was appropriate to defer the prison time until appeals courts rule.

A jury had recommended the nine-year prison term after convicting Jeremy Jaynes of pumping out at least 10 million e-mails a day with the help of 16 high-speed lines, the kind of Internet capacity a 1,000-employee company would need.

Jaynes, of Raleigh, N.C., told the judge that regardless of how the appeal turns out, "I can guarantee the court I will not be involved in the e-mail marketing business again."

The prosecutor, Lisa Hicks-Thomas, said she was pleased with the sentence and confident that the law would be upheld on appeal.

"We're satisfied that the court upheld what 12 citizens of Virginia determined was an appropriate sentence � nine years in prison," Hicks-Thomas said.

What's wrong with you to be "satisfied" that some guy gets nine years for sending spam? The average person convicted of manslaughter or child molestation doesn't get nine years.

Don't get me wrong here- spamming is a huge problem, and I'm just as angry at web marketers as anyone else. But this is treating the problem the way we "fight" the drug war. The easiest way to stop spam is to start legislating financial burdens for using it- fining companies that sent unsolicited e-mails, and levying ISPs that allow spammers to use their services. This guy wasn't an e-terrorist- he wasn't a hacker trying to down servers- the negative effects of his actions were limited to slowing down productivity. People having their time and money wasted isn't even in the same ballpark as robbing a liquor store- to treat him like a mugger because hitting the "delete" button is annoying is ridiculous.

There are thousands of sex peddlers and a few hundred douchebags in Nigeria right now that don't give a damn about some guy being thrown in jail. I bet this guy's kids care, though. He should be fined and face community service. Instead, as a resident of Virginia, my taxes will likely get to go toward jailing this guy while I'm still getting fifteen offers to enlarge my penis daily. (And not the kind of offers I want them to be.)

Update: Since I'm sure the keyboard crowd is going to jump up my butt for this, I want to clarify that I'm not defending spam. And I'm certainly not defending the deceptive tactics of spammers- for example, fake return addresses, spyware/malware trick downloads, viruses, etc. Stuff like that, as well as all garden-variety hacker attacks, should be completely illegal. But even illegal, nine years is absurd. Spammers exist because they make money off of it. They will go away when it's no longer profitiable. Jail time won't fix this- fines will.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:44 PM

"They once met shame on a street, beat the shit out of him, rolled him up in a carpet, and threw him off a bridge."

Ezra Klein sums up PowerLine-was-completely-fucking-wrong-gate:

Powerline, we must begin to understand, has no fucking idea what they're talking about at any given moment. Once upon a time, some GOP operative sent by the Ghost of Nixon got something right for them in the Free Republic comments section, and ever since then the homo-erotically named bloggers over there have thought his success their own and tried to get a bunch of other Important Stories About Treasonous Democrats right too. But they don't. Reading their site is like watching a blind child in a dog park -- you keep trying to warn him not to step in the piles of shit, but you're never able to get there quite quick enough. They want to make a point on Carter and end up calling him a traitor -- ooh, all over your shoe! They want to attack the AP but end up proving themselves utterly ignorant of how cameras work -- damn, you got it on your sock! They try to accuse Democrats of faking the Schiavo memo until an aide to current Republican Senator and Bush's former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez -- Agh, it's all over you!

They get nothing right. Their fact-checking skills are atrocious. They neither report nor call experts, it's just whatever they invented twenty seconds ago. Watching them work is like attending a high school debate match in the impromptu event. Arguments are created on the fly, accuracy is unimportant so long as the product accuses the "MSM" or Democrats of some cardinal sin that'll leave Powerline's sycophantic readers moaning with the exquisite pleasure that comes only from having one's biases expertly stroked. The plausibility of their claims ranges from pathetic to laughable (has Big Trunk debated PZ Myers on the biological uncertainty of evolution yet?) and their traffic and credibility is entirely predicated on the work someone else did, success they've been totally unable to replicate. They have failed.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:07 AM

April 7, 2005

Oopsie, pt. 2

Jeralyn weighs in on PowerLine-Was-Completely-Fucking-Wrong-Gate with the more direct question, yet in an honorable fashion without the (albiet allowed at this point) smugness: is anyone going to actually admit error on this? Short answer- of course not.

Watch the right try to spin themselves out of this one. Shorter Powerline: It depends on the definition of "Republican official" and "party leader." (Sen. Martinez doesn't count because he'd only been in office three months and could hardly be described as a party leader.) And don't blame us, blame ABC and the Post. Don't you just love the way the right accepts responsibility?
I find it more interesting that PowerLine is the same blog that declared "victory" after getting an apology from Dan Rather, yet now uses that same apology as a mocking rejection of any wrongdoing on their part.

While the left/right thing is unavoidable, this story really reflects another issue I addressed in previous posts- this isn't as much about Schiavo as it is about a major pet peeve found in the blogosphere- the apparent inabilty for bloggers to admit wrongdoing.

I've been reading a lot of stuff in the last few weeks/months about "citizen journalists" and yet these same bloggers seem to feel they should be given the same clout and integrity as journalists but in no way be beholden to the same standard of ethics. (Not to say many mainstream journos are devoid of those, either.)

So do cases like this prove that bloggers are a new breed of journalists in the vein of print media? Or are they merely a new breed of pundits akin to talking heads on shows like Crossfire and Hannity & Colmes?

I think the answer is rapidly solidifying toward the latter. And that's not really a good sign for "citizen journalism." Why PowerLine, or Michelle Malkin, or any of these self-proclaimed "journalists" should even remotely consider being proud of themselves for the way this story played out is an overwhelming display of chutzpah.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:45 AM

Hindrocket for Pope

If anything, I think PowerLine should just be given another award for the highest levels of denial-based self-righteousness among any weblog on the internet. After weeks of whoring themselves to the national media in the form of yet another "this memo is fake!" rant as their deus ex machina for liberal-bashing, the clear-cut, inarguable proof that they were completely and utterly full of shit is met with a droning, backtracking refusal to admit the simple, honest fact that they pulled the entire story out of their ass.

I wrote a while back about the apparent inabilty for webloggers to admit any wrongdoing, and only now with the death of John Paul II do I realize that it's a sign for PowerLine's true calling.

PowerLine is, clearly, infallible. Their word is bond, their will be done. If a memo is fake, then God himself has dictated through PowerLine's mortal text on earth that liberals have yet again challenged the forces of good. The proof that the memo was real is clearly, like the giant skulls of Satan's hell-minons uncovered in the deserts on Montana, a trick from secular humanists to deny the bloglical method of creation. (65 million years? Everyone knows earth was created when God trackbacked the sun in 1999!)

So there you have it. PowerLine, God's blogging applet to the mortals. They can do, and say, no wrong. Even when that pesky evidence gets in their way.

Update: More from Prof. Willis, PhD.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:40 AM

The Culture of Life™ strikes again

Yet another act of genius from Florida, the Persistently Vegatative State:

Florida's legislature has approved a bill that would give residents the right to open fire against anyone they perceive as a threat in public, instead of having to try to avoid a conflict as under prevailing law.

Outraged opponents say the law will encourage Floridians to open fire first and ask questions later, fostering a sort of statewide Wild West shootout mentality. Supporters argue that criminals will think twice if they believe they are likely to be promptly shot when they assault someone.

Republican Governor Jeb Bush, who has said he plans to sign the bill, says it is "a good, commonsense, anti-crime issue."

"Commonsense?" Has Bush even heard of the term "road rage?"

Do you know why most cops never fire a gun during their entire career? Because they're trained to know when they actually have to fire their gun. This law basically makes any plastic Sheriff's badge found in a cornflakes box an official certification in the State of Florida.

Perhaps Bush forgot the case of Yoshihiro Hattori. Or, more likely, perhaps he remembers it all too well. Hattori was a Japanese exchange student who was gunned down by a Lousiana man on his way to a Halloween Party. Accidentally heading for the wrong house, Hattori, dressed in a 70's John Travolta costume, was "perceived as a threat" by the Lousiana homeowner, who took Hattori's inabilty to understand the word "freeze" as an excuse to murder him. The killer was acquitted.

This is a country where people call 911 because Burger King didn't make their burger correctly. Now Florida has declared every resident of the state qualified to determine the need for deadly force?

I offer my condolences in advance to the family of the first person that will die needlessly and tragically, their killer unpunished, because of this law.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:22 AM

April 6, 2005

Promo as promised

The promo stuff page is now up. I've made 12 different 100x100 images perfect for using on LiveJournal and MSN Messenger.

I'll (hopefully) have link buttons by this weekend. As I make and add more stuff, I'll let you all know. For now, enjoy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:18 PM

Oh right, that other 99% of his life thing

TalkLeft addresses something that caught my eye as well this afternoon: despite the media perception of him, there was actually quite a bit more to the life of Johnnie Cochran than getting O.J. acquitted. I'm sure I wasn't the only one suprised to read about over 5,000 people attending his funeral, a significant many of whom were directly affected by his work, much of it for the better.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:55 PM

I'd have preferred "Squash the Bugman," but hey

That place where I work has launched DropTheHammer.org. Bask in your new knowledge of just how sticky Tom DeLay is.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:27 PM

Final warning

I am going to be changing/removing items in the stores this week, likely by the weekend. If there's anything in the current shops you really want to get, now's a really good time to try and buy 'em.

If there's anything you'd like to see in the store, keeping in mind that "you'd like to see" means "I'd actually buy it," not just "I think it would be great if you spent a lot of time making it for no reason," let me know.

I've also been making some promo-related stuff (LiveJournal-sized icons, link buttons, etc.) That'll hopefully be up by this weekend as well.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:11 AM

April 5, 2005

And lo, the cock crowed a third time. And then Bill Frist killed it

Bill "Oh shit! I just remembered I want to be President" Frist declares he doth not know Tom DeLay.

U.S. Senate Republican leader Bill Frist said on Tuesday that courts had acted fairly in the Terri Schiavo "right-to-die" case, differing sharply from a vow of retribution by his House of Representatives counterpart, Tom DeLay.

"I believe we have a fair and independent judiciary today," said Frist, now trying to resolve a battle with Democrats over judicial nominations that threatens to tie his chamber into knots. "I respect that."

And lo, did the halls of Free Republic echo with the howls of betrayal, and the Footballs, Little and Green, kneeled, and wept.

Frist! Why hast thou forsaken them?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:32 PM

2Ignorant 2Believe

From Monday's Progress Report:

The website 4parents.gov, one of the latest "public education campaigns" launched by the Bush administration, claims to "provide parents with the information, tools and skills they need to help their teens make the healthiest choices." Maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, the website seeks to encourage "parents to talk frankly [with teens] about sensitive topics like sex and relationships." However, the website fails miserably in these goals and nearly 150 public health and advocacy groups have signed a letter to HHS Secretary Leavitt to "express their deep concern." Accepting that parents ought to be "the primary sexuality educators of their children," the groups chide HHS because, rather than giving parents "the accurate information and resources they need," the website "relies on fear to motivate and contains many errors and biases that undermine its intent of encouraging parent-child communication around sex and sexuality."

PROMOTING ABSTINENCE AT ALL COSTS: The section entitled "What if Your Teen Has Already Had Sex?" includes value-laden, abstinence only advice: "Tell them it's not too late to stop having sex, that it's never too late to make healthy choices. They are worth it!" The section provides "no resources or suggestions" for parents with children who "are not 'worth it,'" i.e. those who make the decision to remain sexually active. For those parents, 4parents.gov instead "contains inaccurate information regarding the effectiveness of condoms, as well as the transmission and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases." By spreading misleading information, 4parents.gov succumbs to the mistaken belief that "giving young people negative information about contraception will encourage them not to have sexual intercourse, when all it will do is encourage them not to have contraception."

'ANTI-CHOICE OVERTONES': According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnancy begins at implantation. This is the "medically accepted definition" of the term and has been used in prior instances by the Department of Health and Human Services. Yet, the 4parents.gov website asserts that pregnancy begins at the time of fertilization of the egg, a definition commonly used in, and preferred by, the anti-choice community. This "radical change in the definition of pregnancy … flies in the face of the medical community [and] shows a blatant disregard for science." The two different definitions of pregnancy have been linked to the recent attack on patients' rights. Another example of 4parents.gov's "anti-choice overtones" is the website's statement that "'abortion complications' are one of the major reasons for infertility." In reality, "less than one percent of women who have an abortion experience a major complication, and there is no evidence of infertility among the vast majority of women who've had abortions."

CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND: 4parents.gov not only "contains a distressing lack of information for parents of sexually abused and assaulted youth" but also "fails to address the unique needs or parents with LGBTQ children," instead using "outdated and alienating language and ideas." In a section on sexual orientation, the website stresses that parents need to address the issue "within the context of their own value system" to help "impressionable" adolescents who are "certain to hear about alternative lifestyles" from the increasing visibility of the issue "in public debate, the media, and often, in school curriculum." If parents suspect their child is gay, they are told to "consider seeing a family therapist" but one "who shares [their] values" with the intent "to clarify and work through these issues."

HELP FOR WEBSITE COMES FROM QUESTIONABLE SOURCE: The only non-governmental organization "credited as having worked with HHS to create 4parents.gov" is the National Physicians Center for Family Resources (NPC). With its ties to Focus on the Family and other radically conservative organizations, the group has been accused of representing "views that are far outside the values of mainstream Americans and the public health community." With help like NPC, its no wonder that 4parents.gov pushes abstinence and discounts the notion of safe sex. On its own website, NPC states that "the abstinence-until-marriage message should be embraced as the medical model for sexual health, both in and out of the classroom" and that "suggesting that contraceptive-based education will protect the overall health of America's adolescents is a prescription for continued disaster."

Bad enough as it is, the government using yet another public utility to promote a right-wing agenda isn't exactly a surprise.

But for the website to have information that's flat-out incorrect, especially information that's related to personal health and wellness and reproductive safety merits pointing out the underlying horror of this Administration's personal moral crusades. For the purpose of promoting its "sex icky!" agenda, the government is actively endangering your children. Another stunning triumph for the Culture of Life™.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:03 AM

Tomorrow is another day

Happy B-Day to the Penguin Man.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:53 AM

April 4, 2005

Say what?

Via... hell, via just about everyone at this point, Sen. John Cornyn, lunatic:

SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." [Senate Floor, 4/4/05]
That's right- that would be a U.S. Senator declaring on the floor of Congress that "activist judges" deserve what's coming to them.

Lovely.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:36 PM

Newest comic - "Other daily acts of terrorism"

Halfway through inking this week's comic, I suddenly realized that this is the first time since January XQUZYPHYR and/or Overboard actually appeared in the strip of their own name. That's kind of a weird feeling, because even in this one, the two of them serve really as the welcome mat for the actual point of the strip.

I think if anything, it's a sign that I should really start coming up with ideas that aren't always politically topical, where clearly the two have little relevance. Were an operation that made my brain capable of formulating ideas the way Stephen Notely's does actually available, I'd be on the flight to the semi-coherent Mexican "doctor" who performs such procedures this instant.

At last week's Laugh While You Can event, Tim Krieder made a stunning point about his own work, in that he didn't draw cartoons just to draw guys in suits. I immediately realized that a guy wearing a suit appears almost in every single strip I've drawn for the last six months.

So in that, I have to point out that the diagrams in the last panel make me giggle every time I look at them. I really need to make with the wacky shit more often.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:08 AM

April 3, 2005

God, that's fantastic

I just discovered I'm the top Google search for "monkeys flinging poo."

That makes my entire damn weekend.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:15 PM