Monday, December 31, 2001

Sunday, December 30, 2001

Best Albums of 2001 | 2000 from Deviated Septum

(Note: D-S is a work in progress. But I wanted to get my list up seeing as how it's the end of the year and all. Oh yeah, and last year's too.)
Serious as a heart attack: The Downward Spiral

Friday, December 28, 2001

"This is the mother of all 'lake-effect' snows," said Tom Niziol, scientific operations officer at the National Weather Service's forecast office in Buffalo. Think this guy read The Perfect Storm, or at least the pr for the film? Seriously though, Buffalo's getting pounded. I'm jealous. 73 inches in the past 4 days with 6-12 more by Sun.

For Chitown reference purposes:
1. Blizzard of 1967 (01/26)--The weekend my parents were supposed to move into the home in Elmhurst--24 inches in 29 hours (largest snowfall in Chicago history)
2. Blizzard of 1979 (01/12)--This was great as it meant snowcaves and a lot of missed school--20.5 inches in less than 2 days (combined the New Year's Eve storm 2 wks. earlier, it set a record for total snow on the ground with 27.5 to 30.5 inches)
(source)
Chunk of the Rock for December 28:

The Candy Bar

Located on beautiful Spring Road in Elmhurst's "other" business district. This venerable sugar merchant was an Elmrock institution for... well, the length of my childhood anyway.

Best candy for a rush on just pennies a day: Lik M Sticks or Pixie Sticks. Same concept, really, except the Pixies were just flavored sugar in a paper straw. The Lik M Sticks consisted of a hardened sugar "stick" that you dipped into any one of three different flavored sugars. The best part, of course, was the afterthought sugar "stick" delivery mechanism. (I know I'm not the only one in this camp.)

Worst waste of your sugar buying power: those candy dots attached to strips of paper. Problem here was very little kick out of each microscopic dot as you were just as likely be eating paper as you were sugar. (Strangely enough, it was only a few years later that I was actively seeking out the ingestion of both paper and microscopic dots.)
It's a girl! (She's due May 18)
"A visiting male relative was showering in the man's home Christmas Eve when he noticed a "black spot" on a bathroom shower vent. The relative, knowing the defendant owns an audio/visual equipment installation business, checked further and discovered a small camera hidden inside the vent." (Italics mine) Why are the sickest fucks always the stupidest fucks? story
Word of the Day for Friday December 28, 2001:

salad days, noun:
A time of youthful inexperience, innocence, or indiscretion.

I love this term. But, in thinking about it, I'm not really sure why. Not much of a salad eater, really. Shouldn't it be "steak days"?
This is from a daily e-mail that we get from some NY investment firm. We get economic,market, int'l, political commentary. "Nuclear Risks: The two countries (India and Pakistan) fought a war in 1971, but neither country had nuclear weapons then. In October, a news report said that the US Military had conducted over 25 simulations of a confronation between the countries, and each one ended in a nuclear war." This goes along side a NY Times piece today to illustrate the seriousness of the Middle East, Afhanistan, Pakistan, India etc. situation.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. Did you get what you wished for? Mary had a very SST Christmas (Minutemen, Huskers, Descendents). And I scored some much-needed clothing items, including a long-desired pair of fleece pants. So we decided to splurge a little and bought ourselves a digital camcorder. I have quickly become the most-annoying camcorder operator in the world; recording any and all minutiae I can train my lens on.
Oh Man, that'd be huge (in tiny Elvis' voice) Bledsoe
Although I think that the likelihood of the Bears paying up for talent is slim to none and slim just left town. Who is the best quarterback in Bear's history? (I would say Eric Kramer circa '95 when he threw for 29 TD's, but one good season shouldn't qualify) Would this guy be in the top half of NFL quarterbacks this year? Any year? Why is Chicago anathema definition for NFL QB's? (I didn't really know how to use this word in context, plus I'm just really getting the hang of posting web-sites)
In Rewritten Internet Fables, the Late Bird Gets the Worm

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Is interesting... Arthur Miller fears for civil rights

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2001

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!"
"We think this is a real love story..." So do I.
Dick Schaap died on Friday.
My favorite film critic's favorite films of 2001.

I can't wait to see The Royal Tenenbaums!

Friday, December 21, 2001

Chunk of the Rock for December 21--Happy Birthday Dad!:

Soukup’s

It being Christmas and all, I thought I would attempt to share a Christmas-y Chunk. Soukup’s qualifies as it was a “Heart of Elmhurst” department store institution. The toys were up on the top floor (which might have only been the second or third floor, but it sure seemed like a hike when you were a kid). I remember a creaky, uneven floor up there and it was always a little too dark for retail. But they had games and Matchbox cars and, of course, Big Jim accessories. Big Jim was this outdoorsy, action figure doll for boys. I had one, he came with an RV and camping gear. I think Ebs had his buddy, Big Josh, or something. It sounds a little weird now, but it was like the old-school G.I. Joe dolls and it was perfectly normal. (Believe me)

I still have a cheap-ass pair of hockey skates I bought at Soukup’s when I was about 13 years old. They would even sharpen your skates there. I also remember buying art supplies, paints and brushes, for a class I had in high school. Hell, it seems like they sold everything. I think they even competed with Plass Appliance by selling washers and dryers and whatnot.

Remember they had that sketchy elevator? Like the first one ever invented, I think. You’d only take it if it were waiting there for you, otherwise it would never actually show up. We always parked in the back of Soukup’s and entered through the back doorway—which was also quirky (like the store itself) and a little too small. I don’t ever recall coming in the front, which was crowded with the uninteresting appliances anyway.

A search for “Soukup’s Elmhurst” turns up this sermon by the Rev. John E. Gibbons (I think no relation to the funeral home, but maybe I’ll email and ask) on the “Lost Virtues of Community”. In it, he references a book concerning three Chicago neighborhoods (Elmhurst being one of them), entitled The Lost City : The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America. (I’ve added it to my wishlist)
Great Op-Ed piece from Krugman in today's New York Times: A No-Win Outcome It includes a little summary of the huge (nt) compromises that Bill Thomas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, made to attempt to earn passage of the bill. "Strangely, these awesome sacrifices [Republican compromises to the original bill] didn't impress the Democratic leadership." Unfortunately, President Bush couldn't get his way on this one, so he "took his bat and ball and went home."
Shocker: Insurer Shield in Terror Costs Dies in Senate (NYT link) You mean Congress is going to let the free market ecomony sort itself out? Even when it's the mighty Insurance industry that's holding it's hat out?? Amazing. I don't buy that this will "insiduously" effect the economy. An enterprising capitalist or two will surely fill this terrorism insurance hole... won't they?
Whattup with B-Rad?

Thursday, December 20, 2001

This page turned up #2 in this search: Google Search: totally free wife likes to be watched

Update: We also showed up #22 in this search: Yahoo Search Results: gang fuck house wives

Apparently, it's completely normal to be obsessed with this stuff.
Great article from The Progressive about The New McCarthyism... America: Love or Leave It, huh? I say change it! Do you hear that sound? It's the revolution coming...
Trumping Charity "This may sound like just the sort of thing President Bush had in mind when he suggested that faith-based organizations fill some of society's social service needs. But the thing you have to remember about the homeless, if you want to look at this from, say, the point of view of the Giuliani administration, is that they are unsightly."
Map of Springfield | Guide to Springfield

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Interesting article on The Myth of Internet Time and small companies competing in new markets. "...(S)mall companies should look for markets where time is an ally rather than an enemy. Fast growing markets aren't necessarily good for small players." (via evh)
Woman leaves Christmas gift for trash collectors only to have it swiped by a vengeful recycling collector. "The man told (Ann) Calhoun that the city's trash collectors had been taking gifts meant for the recycling collectors, including some presents left out that morning in a nearby alley. He had taken her gift, he told her, as compensation. She didn't get it back." Well Merry Fucking Christmas then. How about next year you all get nothing... and like it. (via obs)

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Google does it again!

Google Catalog Search (beta) - This is great news for two reasons: (1) It will help Google earn revenue it desperately needs to remain economically viable and, therefore, online--proliferating its killer technology; and (2) Husbands will no longer have to lie about where the Victoria's Secret catalog came from.
“In a move that undoubtedly will confound people who want to play by the rules, music consumers will be paying twice if they want to listen to their music on their stereo and on their computer.”

This issue was covered in yesterday’s WSJ. Here’s an article from today’s Wired.

Fact: It is legal for you to copy music, movies, literature, etc. so long as you do not distribute the material with the intent of making money. (e.g. I have a new record I like and want to share it with a friend, I burn a copy of the cd for him, perfectly legal) But you might not believe this is true anymore. Why?

Fact: In the digital age, the RIAA is attempting to control how consumers, in fact, consume their product (music) after it’s purchased. And their “campaign” is making music-lovers feel like criminals for wanting to take their legally-purchased sounds with them, or for wanting to share with others.

What can you do? Start by refusing to purchase any cd’s off of this list. And continue by copying as many of your favorite cd’s that you would like to share with others. Odds are, they will like some of the music you've shared with them and will explore further at their local, independent record merchant. The big labels and big retailers are fixing to make all of the money off of the sale of the cd’s anyway (see: Albini rant). Then, whenever possible, patronize the band itself in some manner that rewards them more directly: buy a t-shirt, buy a bumper sticker, go to their show, buy a cd direct from their website or their (independent) label’s website, tell your friends to do the same...
Thank god China is a member of the World Trade Organization. Never mind that their atrocious record on human rights continues to remain tarnished, but is, in fact, getting worse. Now that they are our capitalistic ally, they are helping us fight the war on “terrorism” in their own fascist way. “China, which officially became a member of the World Trade Organization, was continuing its crackdown on Uighur Muslims, whom it was executing in large numbers.” (from Harper’s) story | history
Welcome to the Police States of America:

"The FBI is asking for access to a massive database that contains the private communications and passwords of the victims of the Badtrans Internet worm." story

"(Barry) Reingold's not sure, but he's next to positive that his First Amendment workout got him a visitation from the FBI." story
The funny thing is, the uproar surrounding this speech at Cal State Sacramento commencement was just a boorish case of free speech v. free speech. I mean, I guess heckling is protected by the first amendment (who cares?). Good example the guests provided for the youth of America, though; assuming most of the guest were friends and family members of the students who are, by definition, "beginning" the rest of their lives. The new American way dictates that if you find an opinion you disagree with you squash it, and how. No point in wasting the time on thoughtful discourse and debate (the very type that founded this nation for example). Now, if you bother to read the speech, I think you'll find that Ms. Heaphy makes a strong case for this very point. "This was a message about civil liberties and our acceptance of differing points of view in American society," Heaphy said in an interview after the commencement. "It's a message that needs to continue to be heard." Not, apparently, by 17,000 Americans in the capital of California.

Monday, December 17, 2001



I don't know, it just has that "It's drinking the water!!" effect on me.
Word for the day (from Eric C.)

Multislacking: When an employee has two browser windows open, a non-work-related site on top of a productive one, and quickly clicks on the legitimate site whenever the boss is nearby.

Sunday, December 16, 2001

Updates on a couple of items previously discussed here:

By canceling a ship-based short-range missile interceptor program, the Pentagon and President Bush hope to strengthen it's case for a ship-based long-range missile defense program. The ineffective project, which cost $2.3 billion over the past decade, "was killed because it had gone more than 50 percent over budget and had fallen more than two years behind schedule..." While the administration is throwing out a political "bone" by giving up the short-range for the much coveted long-range package, they are bone-headed to think no one will notice the admission of failure of the technology here. The long-range program is far more technologically difficult to pull off. If we can't shoot em down from less than 500 miles out, how does anyone reasonably think we can pluck the missiles out of the sky from over 3000 miles out? story (NYT)

Dmitry can finally go home. (NYT)
American Airlines "...was sued Thursday for allegedly paying for Viagra pills for its male employees but denying women employees health benefits to pay for birth control pills, pap smears or infertility treatment." (from svn)
Typical... go get em girl!

Saturday, December 15, 2001

MilitaryTribunalFAQ.html [this is good]
(from fp)
D is for Dank
...and Divorce: Local Police find no prowler, just cellar full of marijuana (from obs)

Friday, December 14, 2001

Chunk of the Rock for December 14:

Eldridge Park

I don't even know where to begin with the Eldridge Park stories. Let's start with, this being the locale of my first acid trip. I was with a buddy, Adam P. (not wanting to reveal the exact name as I can't be so sure that he's as forthright with his drug addled past as I), it was microdots, actually. (mmmm... speedy trip) I'll never forget the first moment the world turned to rubber yet became so much clearer to me. Adam was talking about the fourth dimension or some shit (trite you say? we were 16, maybe 17, perfectly good trip-tablesetting subject matter), and he was graphically illustrating his thesis by waving his hands to denote the passage of time. Just as he tried to explain how time as a dimension is made up of a series of points (just like the other three), I began to see it broken down. My first tracer. Later in the day we watched ferrets swim in the woodgrain of his bedroom door and I got lost in the wallpaper while listening to "Dark Star" for the first time. (/flashback)

The sled hill has been redesigned since my youth. It seems longer but not as steep, as if a giant reached down and compressed it with his thumb. It was part of a rejuenvenation a few years back to help make this still-settling, former trash heap a little more stable for the new millenium. I believe the lagoon was dredged at that time as well. The lagoon had piss-poor ice for skating compared to York Commons (south Elmhurst being the step-cousin in winter maintenance category), but I could walk to it and did. Once in my skates--no shit. (good for your edges'nt)
Good news from the capital punishment front: Number of Executions Falls for Second Straight Year (NYT link)

"...a year in which many states re-examined the fairness of capital punishment... as polls showed growing public concern that an innocent person could be put to death." And you know it's happened. Sixty-six is still 66 too many.
"Wine is fine, but whiskey's quicker..." NBC to Accept Ads for Liquor (NYT link)
In memory of Joey Ramone, from P.J. Soles aka Riff Randell (via tpoh on mefi).

Thursday, December 13, 2001

So the American Council of Trustees and Alumni is keeping a list of un-patriotic academics on college campuses across the U.S. decrying a so-called "Blame America First" mentality. I guess it's just free speech v. free speech, and there's nothing wrong with that. But I'm not so sure that the ACTA wants to have a dialog--which promotes learning, which is what's supposed to occur within the walls of universities. Here's one of the examples given of this despicable language: "'The best way to begin a war on terrorism might be to look in the mirror.' - professor of anthropology at MIT" Oooo, shocking! I say the man/woman has a point. And any honest and real discussion of our current state of affairs must address history; and part of that history involves U.S. imperialism. Here's an important take on the matter: This Modern World
Nirvana Hits A Sour Note Courtney Hole is keeping a boxed set and an unreleased song off the shelves. Say didn't she kill Kurt?
Stupid is as stupid does: Nate Newton arrested on drug charges... again

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Scientists Now Fear 'Abrupt' Global Warming Changes

In the meantime, Detroit is building bigger and thirstier SUVs and congressmen aren't sure what to do about it (note that CAFE standards haven't been raised since 1986). I have an idea, take the money out of politics. I'm sorry, but unless you are towing something on a regular basis, you do not need to own an Excursion (for example). Unless, of course, you're trying to prove to your fellow neighbors that you have the biggest dick.
Listening to: Jim O'Rourke / Insignificance
Your tax dollars at work...

Also from Harper's: "The Pentagon performed another rigged test of its antimissile system; this time the 'kill vehicle' actually struck its target, which was emitting a homing beacon." story1 | story2

Let's hope our enemies equip their missiles with homing beacons and only launch them in nice weather. And now you know why Bush was being so chummy with Putin in Texas last month, so he could let his new buddy down easy on that sticky little treaty issue. Btw, who exactly do we expect to be lauching missiles at us these days? That's what I thought. In robot voice: Must bolster military industrial complex.
Great use of the medium: Jokes on borgle (from evhead) Even if a lot of these jokes are as old as my grandma and she farts dust.

e.g. A blonde goes into the dry cleaners to have her sweater cleaned. She asks the clerk, “How much?”
He doesn’t hear her correctly and says “Come again?”
She giggles and says “No…it’s just mustard this time.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Time to share my new favorite thing...

Have you visited Epitonic yet?
You should. I am thoroughly enjoying it (now that I have the modem speed to really get into it).

Basically it offers music info, samples, and full downloads from independent musicians and the quality is excellent.

When you get to a band's page on the site, not only do they offer a little history, but they provide links to a list of other bands that fit that particular sub-sub genre.

Go there now.
Reason # 12,437 to think the government untrustworthy:
U.S. Reports Disease Link to Gulf War (NYT link)

"After years of denying any link between illness and service in the Persian Gulf war, military officials said today that veterans of the conflict were nearly twice as likely as other soldiers to suffer the fatal neurological illness known as Lou Gehrig's disease."
Here's some more of that pointed Harper's Weekly juxtaposition that Marnie referred to earlier:

"Attorney General John Ashcroft testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had summoned him to explain his dubious anti-terrorism tactics. 'To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty,' he said, 'my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists.' He also accused his critics of giving 'ammunition to America's enemies.' The attorney general went on to defend his refusal to compromise the right of potential terrorists to keep and bear arms." Why aren't you subscribing?

Monday, December 10, 2001

New York’s attorney general probes Wall Street analysts - "We’ve had an ongoing investigation into whether there are inherent conflicts in the work that analysts do for investment houses that are also seeking underwriting business," a spokesman for the attorney general said. Isn't it about time the SEC looked into this instead of just issuing an "alert"? See also: Don Sussis | Ben Stein | John C. Coffee Jr.
Mary and I saw Wilco on Saturday night at Denver's Ogden Theatre. One of the worst venues imaginable to see and hear live music (it's right up there with the Aragon Brawlroom in Chiccy G). The show was fabulous. Tweedy played a lot of songs off the new album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", as he said, "because they just feel like playing this stuff right now." We also saw a young woman in her mid-20s who brought her infant to the show. The baby had earplugs in and seemed pretty good-natured about the whole event. But, I think I've seen it all now. Anyway, here's the RMN preview of the show.

My only gripe (you knew there'd be one) had to do with the crowd. It seems that whenever I see a band that plays "quieter" music (as Wilco does from time to time), they fight to be heard over the din of the audience who, apparently, is more interested in talking about how Tweedy is nothing like Tom Petty (not making this up), than actually listening to the music. This was also true, but to a lesser degree, at the Rebecca Gates show a couple of weeks ago. Why would you pay good money to see a band and talk through the whole act? (I'm guessing that a lot of the time it's due to ticket giveaway situations. i.e. People are there not to see the band, but to be seen by people seeing the band) Is this happening in your town?

Sunday, December 09, 2001

Evidence that aliens are partly to blame for 9-11. Wtf?
Time to get your war on, version 5.
Shiiiit

Friday, December 07, 2001

Japanese woman dies after trying to find the loot from the film Fargo.

It must be true, it's on the web. "Detroit Lakes police chief Kelvin Keena..." Kelvin Keena?
Chunk of the Rock for December 7:

Graue Mill

Though technically not in Elmhurst, the Mill stands firm as an important chunk. Read the site, there's a lot of history here. For instance, did you know it was an Underground Railroad station? Graue Mill is always a good time (don't forget to pick up a sack of cornmeal while you're there). It seems to me we always called it "Grau-wee", but I believe it's pronounced "Grauw". I'm sure some of you remember drinking beer by the Mill in those awkward times before everyone was legal... and probably even after. Last time I actually visited Graue was in 94. Maggie and I went over there one afternoon and watched some guy shear a sheep and sat on the rocks by the creek talking about what the future had in store for us.
Hitting the Trifecta (NYT link) "Administration officials insist that the economic slowdown and the war on terror, not the tax cut, are responsible for the red ink. But this is flatly untrue..." I think you know where I stand on the tax cut. You can expect a single-term Bush presidency and a Dem in the White House in 2005.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

Polaroid, in Chap 11, Seeks Exec Bonuses

"Polaroid Chairman Gary DiCamillo stands to collect the largest amount of bonus pay because it is based on a percentage of an executive's base salary. Under DiCamillo's leadership in the past six years, Polaroid's core photography business steadily deteriorated..."

But we must make sure he's properly bonused, we wouldn't want him jumping ship for another company and losing all that talent. "Lawyers for Polaroid said the bonuses and incentives are essential for preventing low morale and resignations within the executive ranks. Defections could hurt asset sales." What's left of the assets, that is.

Btw, this is happening over at Enron as well (NYT link).
"I'm Full of Hate and I Love It"

Columbine killer Eric Harris' diary
Mad Lib Filled With Swears
PORTLAND, ME— The popular party amusement Mad Libs was misused for profane purposes Monday, when Peter Leff, a Portland-area 12-year-old, filled the blank spaces on a "Space Adventure Mad Lib" entirely with swear words. "Prepare to shit the enemy," Leff had Space Commander Mr. Garrick say. "Set all pussys on fart and brace for blowjobs." (from last week's Onion)
So every once in awhile (okay, like everyday), I check the Sitemeter attached to this blog to see who's visited and (sometimes more importantly) where they came from. Well, today some web surfer from the Russian Time Zone popped in, but didn't stick around. I don't think he found what he was looking for: "Free milky breast movie download". Strange that Gang... a weblog makes the top 20 results for that particular search.
Justice Dept. Bars Use of Gun Checks in Terror Inquiry


Make no mistake. John Ashcroft is putting his own agenda before "combating" terrorism.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

With relatives like these... Rosenberg’s brother admits lying at trial.

Yeah, those Rosenbergs.
Oops... ‘Friendly fire’ kills 3 U.S. soldiers

Not making light of this situation, it certainly is not funny. However, when the White House says we aren't dropping bombs on Afghan civilians, how can we be sure when we're dropping bombs on our own boys?

Was it Platoon where the frazzled officer orders the airstrike on his own troops?
Disclaimer: No offense to any friends, acquaintances, or associates that make their living selling insurance

That said, the insurance industry is the biggest example of legal highway robbery going today. And it's getting worse:
A New Health Plan May Raise Expenses for Sickest Workers (NYT link)

"Insurance and insurance rates are usually designed around the idea of a pool of risk — the chance that a few members of a group will have high claims that can be covered by the premiums paid by everyone else. But the new plans move away from that notion, effectively penalizing people with higher medical costs and rewarding those with lower expenses." Coming to an employer near you!

Okay, here's why this is bullshit. It completely circumvents the notion of insurance as defined above. I mean, insurers have been ripping off the insurees from day one, but at least we had this unwritten contract with them that the risk would be spread among all the parties being insured. Well, no more. The industry has finally found away around the actuarial tables!

"'The effect will be to shift more of the costs into the pockets of the sick people,' said Uwe E. Reinhardt, an economist at Princeton University. 'The insurance industry has decided that if you are sick, you ought to eat the costs. It's a very dubious social policy.'" And don't be fooled into thinking, because you're healthy, that this won't effect you. Think: pregnancy, sudden illness or accident, ongoing medicated treatment (such as asthma).
Watching the Firms That Watch the Books (NYT link)

It's called "cooking the books", and it will catch up with you eventually. In Enron's case, it caught up with them a lot sooner than later. Qwest got caught doing this earlier in the year, and it hurt their stock price. (In Qwest's case, they were booking revenue on sales of excess bandwidth in a lump sum even though contracting the sale--and associated expenses--out over, say, a 20 year period. Um, that's not illegal, but it sure ain't right. Nor is it GAAP)

The problem, in most cases, is really two-fold:

1. Partners in audit firms are often stockholders of the companies they are auditing. This is a major conflict of interest, to say the least (and is, in fact, illegal). If the auditors uncover damaging information, they are often more likely to bury it for fear of hurting the company's valuation, and their bosses' pocketbooks. PriceWaterhouseCoopers example
2. "Accounting firms have become too dependent on consulting fees from the companies they audit and are unwilling to risk those fees by challenging corporate managers who stretch accounting rules..." i.e. Not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you.
"President Bush again warned the terrorists of the world to watch out and made a foray into lexicography: 'If anybody harbors a terrorist, they're a terrorist. If they fund a terrorist, they're a terrorist. If they house terrorists, they're terrorists. I mean, I can't make it any more clearly to other nations around the world.' Saudi Arabia was still refusing to freeze terrorists' bank accounts. American officials declared that they were 'on a roll' and that the next targets in the crusade against terrorism were Saddam Hussein, Hamas, and the Hezbollah network in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, the Philippines, Indonesia, and North Korea were also being mentioned as future targets. Saudi Arabia was not yet on the list." (from Harper's Weekly)

It's the oil, stupid.
This is funny: Lego porn

"house lady your ass is good for squeezing!! THANK YOU repairman it is made out of plastic"

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Excellent Op-Ed piece by Paul Krugman in today's NYT: A Defining Issue, he uses the Enron example to illustrate the difference between "defined benefit" retirement plans (think: fixed pension plans of yore) and "defined contribution" retirement plans (which is what the current administration wants to do with Social Security). "Some analysts I know think Social Security will be converted to a defined-contribution system, not because it is a good idea but because the financial industry — which has enormous clout in our money-driven political system — has so much to gain from the conversion." Yep, all about that "clout".
Bush Team Seeks Broader Surveillance Powers

And you thought the war on civil liberties stopped with the USA Patriot abomination? "By removing the requirement of a foreign connection, the administration proposal would make it far easier to mount surveillance on people who have no known connection to actors [terrorists] overseas." That's, like... everyone then?
#21 with a bullet on Daypop's Top 40: The Evil Criminal Test

I'm Charles Manson, The Beach Boys' favorite serial killer!
What a facinating juxtaposition of news items from Harper's Weekly:
(In response to the possible cloning of a human embryo) President Bush declared. "We should not as a society grow life to destroy life."
Objections by the United States prevented an international agreement that would have limited the advertising of tobacco products, which are estimated to kill 4 million people each year.

I love the way Harper's editors find contradiction and relation in seemingly unrelated items.

Monday, December 03, 2001

Apparently KPMG doesn’t appreciate people linking to their site without permission. Funny thing is, they have an e-business consultancy arm to their organization. And it would seem to me that if you were in “e-business” that you would want people to link to your site. It’s called free traffic. Duh. This just adds fuel to my burning fire about most management consultants not knowing shit about shit.

Update: Wired story
From the All's Fair in Love and War Department:

US Bombs Hit Wrong Target for Second Time in Two Days.

"The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said yesterday he did not 'know exactly' where Mr bin Laden was, 'but we think he is still in Afghanistan and there is reason to believe that he is in the southern and eastern part of the country.'" So if we bomb the fuck out of the whole country and kill every Afghani, we're bound to get him!

"The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said he would not rule out ordering gas to be pumped into the Tora Bora caves... where Mr bin Laden is believed to be hiding." Maybe we could use the same types of gasses we classify as "weapons of mass destruction."
Here's a little music news without all the bullshit rhetoric that Pitchfork force-feeds you:

Wilco finally finds a new label--Nonesuch--for it's long overdue masterpiece, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (streaming audio link, need Quicktime). No other details, such as release date, are available yet.
Sagent restates revenues to exclude forged sales orders. (via fc) "Everybody knows that sales is where the money is!"* Yeah, like 5 million bucks?

* - actual quote from a, ladder-crawling all the way to middle-management (which is still better than me), former boss of mine at US Bank.
Fantastic. I am officially on. And now, a post...
Here is a tidbit. The newest mode of transportation. "Think forward".