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Friday, July 30, 2004


Progress (Not the Manhole-Advertising RDBMS)
Well, if anyone performs a Google search for "casino-bound girlie terrorists," I'm there....

Speaking of the title, Progress Software is still around. It's been over a decade since I worked with the Progress RDBMS.

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Six Degrees of Confusion
This blog is now featured in the Canadian Directory of Computer Consulting.

This is wrong on so many levels:

(1) Needless to say, they got the wrong Ontario.

(2) I am not a computer consultant.

(3) Zurich is in Switzerland.

Well, I have to come up with three more. These will be stretches.

(4) I don't speak French.

(5) I don't speak COBOL.

(6) All Your Base Are Belong To Us

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Thursday, July 29, 2004


SEIU vs. Kerry
Well, now that I've blasted the baby seal clubbers, it's time to blast the Marxist murderers. Yes, the Democrats are more united than usual, but unity isn't universal:

SEIU CHIEF NOT THRILLED WITH IDEA OF KERRY VICTORY

DAVID S. BRODER, WASHINGTON POST - Breaking sharply with the enforced harmony of the Democratic National Convention, the president of the largest AFL-CIO union said Monday that both organized labor and the Democratic Party might be better off in the long run if Sen. John F. Kerry loses the election. Andrew Stern, the head of the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union....argued that another four years of Bush policies might be less damaging than the stifling of needed reform within the party and the labor movement that he said would occur if Kerry became president. Stern's dissatisfaction with the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party is not new, but his decision to voice his frustration on the opening day of a carefully scripted convention was an unwelcome surprise to Kerry's convention managers, who had been proclaiming their delight at the absence of any internal conflicts.

Speaking of the effort to create new political and union organizations, Stern said, "I don't know if it would survive with a Democratic president," because Kerry, like former president Bill Clinton, would use the party for his own political benefit and labor leaders would become partners of the new establishment....

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Ellie Nesler Revisited
My fellow baby seal clubbers argue that the near-deification of beating victim Rodney King is terrible, considering all of the crimes that King has committed and continues to commit.

Which brings us to Ellie Nesler. In case you don't recall the name:

[Ellie Nesler] was convicted of manslaughter in the April 1993 Jamestown courtroom slaying of a man accused of molesting children at a church camp.

William Nesler had been named as one of the accused molester's victims.

Ellie Nesler was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the manslaughter conviction, but served less than four years. The state Supreme Court threw out part of the jury's verdict; Nesler then pleaded guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.

She was released in 1997.


While Nesler has not received universal adultation, she does have some supporters:

Every day there are examples of people defending their very lives because of unrighteous actions. One news story related a black teenage boy shooting and killing a White homosexual trying to molest him. Should the black boy be charged when sodomy is against God's law? Then, there's the case of Ellie Nesler, a California mother who shot and killed the pedophile that raped her son. Did Ellie take the law into her own hands, or was she a murderer? Many Californians thought she was a heroine. Can the judeo Christians biblically argue against such actions? Of course, the liberal minded bleeding heart can make all kinds of technical arguments, but the principle of taking righteous action is found in Deut. 19:1-13, especially verse 13 which states, "Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel that it may go well with thee".

(Vengeance is whose? And, of course, the preacher quote above then starts talking about the "antichrist jews"....)

Well, I hadn't heard what happened to Ellie after she was released:

But in July 2002 she was back in prison, sentenced to six years after pleading guilty to two drug charges -- furnishing methamphetamine to an undercover police officer and possessing ingredients to make the drug. She is still in prison.

Over the last few days, additional material has come out about the son who was molested in the first place:

SONORA -- William Nesler, the 22-year-old son of courtroom slayer Ellie Nesler, is wanted on suspicion of attempted murder.

Tuolumne County sheriff's investigators say William Nesler beat a 45-year-old man...severely early Sunday....

Investigators said the attack took place about an hour after Nesler was released from Tuolumne County Jail after serving 30 days for battery on the same victim.


Here are the latest updates:

On Wednesday, more information surfaced about the Sunday morning incident that left Davis dead, and the pair's confrontation in June.

According to Tuolumne County sheriff's reports, Davis made an arrangement with the Nesler family to live on the Shaws Flat Road property, northwest of Sonora, owned by Ellie Nesler. On June 24, deputies were called there to handle a dispute between William Nesler and Davis over some tools.

Enraged, Nesler "just started beating on (Davis) in front of the officers," sheriff's Sgt. Roger Dittberner said.

As two deputies tried to control Nesler, he threw Davis to the ground, tried throwing more punches at him and stomped his foot on the ground, narrowly missing the man's head....

The deputies arrested Nesler on suspicion of assault and battery. He refused to answer questions, Dittberner said, but told deputies: "No, I don't want to talk. Just take me to court so I can get my sentence.

"He's lucky I didn't kill him. I should have just blown that (expletive) away."

Four days later, Nesler pleaded guilty to battery in a plea bargain.

The Sheriff's Department released Nesler from jail at 4 a.m. Sunday, after serving 32 days of a 60-day sentence. Nesler was freed early because of good behavior and jail overcrowding....

Less than an hour later, Dittberner said, Nesler returned to his family's property and severely beat Davis in front of witnesses....

Deputies who responded to a call about the attack found Davis, on the ground near the road, unconscious and bleeding. He was transported to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto but didn't regain consciousness before dying Monday afternoon.

Nesler has been booked at the Tuolumne County Jail 18 times since 1999, when he turned 18. The arrests range from driving without a license to concealing a weapon and possessing drugs in jail....

Authorities are also familiar with the family's plot of land, which has prompted numerous complaints and, because of them, frequent visits by code enforcers and the county's Environmental Health Division.

At one time, there were up to six recreational vehicles with people living in them, several junk cars and a mound of garbage more than 8 feet high on the lot, according to Rick Roberts, a code compliance investigator for the county.

"People were just throwing trash out the doors" of the trailers, Roberts said....


Sources: Modesto Bee articles from July 27 and July 29; "A Time to Kill" sermon notes from kinsmanredeemer.com

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Wil-bur, that's COLD
As mentioned on Tony Bruno's show and reported at Ananova and the Mainichi Daily News, among other places. File under "Those Wacky Japanese":

(Ananova) Japanese ice-cream lovers have swapped traditional flavours such as raspberry ripple for something a little more exotic - horse-flesh....Garlic, potato and lettuce, and cactus and seaweed along with raw horse-flesh are now available in Japan's shops. Adventurous ice cream lovers not tempted by those flavours could try soybean and kelp or strawberry and spinach....

(Mainichi) We're not horsing around with this one. There mere thought of putting raw horseflesh into ice cream may be enough to produce plenty of neigh ... er, naysayers. And, rightfully so. You can get it straight from the horse's mouth, this would have to vie for the vilest ice cream ever created. The chunks of meat inside it offer ample proof of why horseflesh is usually used in dog food. Not wanting to be a nag, this flavor needs a definite gee-up. The only saving grace is perhaps that tonight's dessert could well have been last week's odds-on favorite.


I still remember a previous "Those Wacky Japanese" item that I saw a couple of decades ago. It showed Japanese guys in a bar singing country songs with a perfect Southern drawl. This was when karaoke was still new to these shores.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Arlonet Comments
For some reason I thought there would be higher traffic on Arlonet (Arlo Guthrie's message board) regarding the JibJab issue. As of now, I've found three comments on JibJab. gbullough notes the following:

Why don't they do something like sue everyone who fails
to perform the last verses of the song. That does one helluva
lot more damage to the song than any parody ever could.
If you don't sing the song about the relief office and the
'no trespassing' sign, you transform 'This Land is Your Land'
into not much more than 'God Bless America.'


As I previously mentioned, Bad Culture reproduced those last verses (taking them from Arlo's website).

gbullough continues:

And Ludlow knows good and well that this would be nothing but a
SLAPP suit anyway...parody is protected under copyright
law, and this is ESPECIALLY so when the parody is political
commentary.


I was going to post a response on Arlonet, but it would require me to set up an account there (and I have too many accounts already). So, here are my two bits:

Although TRO doesn't have a legal case against JibJab, they could have a moral case if JibJab had done a poor-quality parody. However, the level of detail in the JibJab parody is absolutely astounding, including:

Heinz kethcup bottles
The Fox News Channel parody (Big News Channel)
Howard Dean's joyful shriek
Numerous other parodies (Mal Mart, Big Buy, Big Mart, Nexxo, Mendy's)
Bill Clinton's appearance

Of course, before you buy my review, note that I praise Beavis and Butt-Head's video reviews...

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Ostien on Guthrie
Kathryn Ostien (of JibJab fame) was a major contributor to the Songwriters Hall of Fame website. As Jim Steinblatt states:

The aim of the Songwriters Hall of Fame has always been the establishment of a first-class museum facility where visitors could learn about the men and women who create the songs loved all over the world. As the SHOF Board and staff continue to work and plan for that goal, the wonders of digital technology have permitted the establishment of an imaginative and rapidly growing virtual museum, which everyone can access at the SHOF website: www.shof.org. Responsible for the vast content is Kathryn Ostien, the SHOF Website Director, whose other full-time job is Director of Copyright, Licensing & Royalties for music publisher The Richmond Organization (TRO) and its foreign affiliate the Essex Music Group....As time went on, Ostien devoted more and more time to formulating what the site's architecture and content should be. "I tried to think about it as a musician and as an industry professional," says Ostien. "Basically, it was going to be everything you wanted to know about a song or a songwriter, or the relationship between a songwriter and an artist. What we created was, in my opinion, the most comprehensive database dedicated to songwriters."

OK, so what does this site say about Woody Guthrie? Emphasis mine:

His 1937 radio broadcasts on KFVD, Los Angeles, and XELO (just over the border in Mexico) brought Woody and his new singing partner, Maxine "Lefty Lou" Crissman wide public attention, while providing him with a forum from which he could develop his talent for controversial social commentary and criticism on topics ranging from corrupt politicians, lawyers, and businessmen to praising the humanist principles of Jesus Christ, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Union organizers....

Lead Belly, Cisco Houston, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Will Geer, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Josh White, Millard Lampell, Bess Hawes, Sis Cunningham, among many others, became Woody's friends and collaborators, taking up such social causes as Union organizing, anti-Fascism, strengthening the Communist Party, and generally fighting for the things they believed in the only way they knew how, through political songs of protest....

Guthrie continued to write songs and perform with the Almanac Singers, the politically radical singing group of the late 1940s, some of whose members would later re-form as the Weavers, perhaps the most commercially successful and influential folk group of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Most recognized of these songs include This Land Is Your Land and So Long, It's Been Good To Know Yuh....

Moved by his passion against Fascism, Woody served in both the Merchant Marine and Army during World War II. (But he didn't get three Purple Hearts... :) )...

...While traveling throughout the American landscape during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Woody's observations of what he saw and experienced has left for us a lasting and sometimes haunting legacy of images, sounds, and voices of the marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed people with whom he struggled to survive despite all odds. Although the corpus of original Woody Guthrie songs, or as Woody preferred "people's songs," are, perhaps, his most recognized contribution to American culture, the stinging honesty, humor, and wit found even in his most vernacular prose writings exhibit Woody's fervent belief in social, political, and spiritual justice.

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These Damages Are My Damages
Update on This Land from CNN:

The bit is hilarious. Unless you are The Richmond Organization, a music publisher that owns the copyright to Guthrie's tune through its Ludlow Music unit.

"This puts a completely different spin on the song," said Kathryn Ostien, director of copyright licensing for the publisher. "The damage to the song is huge."

TRO believes that the Jibjab creation threatens to corrupt Guthrie's classic -- an icon of Americana -- by tying it to a political joke; upon hearing the music people would think about the yucks, not Guthrie's unifying message. The publisher wants Jibjab to stop distribution of the flash movie.

Of course the creators behind Jibjab don't agree.

"We consider it a case of political satire and parody and therefore entitled to the fair use exemption of the copyright act," said Jibjab attorney Ken Hertz.


So, let's look at this completely different spin. "This Land" is a nice happy song, isn't it? Sure, in the same way that "Born in the U.S.A." is patriotic, and "When a Man Loves a Woman" is a love song. As Bad Culture notes:

It's stunning how blind the Richmond Organization seems to be to the irony of its stance. From the official website of Woody's son Arlo Guthrie, here are some lyrics from the song which the Richmond Organization appears to have forgotten:
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Chorus

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Guthrie's song isn't just a simple-minded message of unity. It's a fierce cry from the dustbowls of the Depression in the defense of human freedom and life over blind claims of property. Does the Jibjab song do "huge" damage to that message? Hardly. It's precisely because we all treasure the orginal song's big-hearted defense of freedom that it works so well in a satire of election year pettiness. The Richmond Organization should realize that the fact that the Jibjab boys picked the song is a tribute to its message. And they should recognize that Guthrie himself would likely have been far more sympathetic with the Jibjab boys' claims of fair use in the name of satire than with the Richmond Organization's petty claims of copyright infringement.


The EFF also notes that Guthrie himself was a bit free with his copyrights. While no one has stated that "This Land" used the copyright notice I reproduced below, Guthrie apparently did use this notice at times:

"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

Well, it's time to consult with an expert on the subject - Weird Al Yankovic. Here's a statement from Al's FAQ regarding his views on parodies:

Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it's important to maintain the relationships that he's built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.


Let's read a little further:

What about Coolio? I heard that he was upset with Al about "Amish Paradise."

That was a very unfortunate case of misunderstanding between Al's people and Coolio's people. Short version of the story: Al recorded "Amish Paradise" after being told by his record label that Coolio had given his permission for the parody. When Al's album came out, Coolio publicly contended that he had never given his blessing, and that he was in fact very offended by the song. To this day we’re not exactly sure who got their facts wrong, but Al sincerely apologizes to Coolio for the misunderstanding.


As far as I can tell, Coolio never sued Al...

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Tortoise-Like Musings
I'm slow at things...but that fits in with the topic of this entry.

This morning I was driving to work, listening to all of the potheads calling Tony Bruno to tell him how much it will cost recently-retired Ricky Williams to purchase his smokes, and my mind wandered. (Perhaps because of a brief mention of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.)

First, I thought: If the new Bryant/Odom/etc. Lakers is being called Showtime, would the Shaq era Lakers be called Slowtime?

Second, I thought: I can't be the first person who has thought of that.

Well, I obviously wasn't.

The following is excerpted from a Paul Stanford Madera Tribune article written on June 12:

While the Lakers players have been as visible as Jack and the other Hollywood stars who frequent the Staples Center, the Pistons have been flying low under the radar.

Until Game 3 when Detroit turned Showtime into Slowtime.

In the 1980s with Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Byron Scott, the Lakers revolutionized basketball and turned games into track meets with many fast break points

In this year’s NBA Finals, the Lakers have officially scored a pedestrian-like 12 fast-break points - that’s right, four points per game....

All we ever heard was about how tough Detroit’s defense was. But that wasn’t against the Lakers you all protested....

Coaches always say - even Laker coach Phil Jackson - that defense wins championships - even if you never really believed them....

Detroit’s defense is as suffocating as a metal tool shed in Caracas while the Lakers defense is as soft as a down pillow from Nordstroms.

The result is Detroit having a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals which, without a last minute shot by Kobe Bryant in Game 2 which must have been sponsored by the Rainbow Coalition it brought down so much rain, could easily be a 3-0 lead....

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Sunday, July 25, 2004


OK, here's what I know about Foothill Blvd. grocery stores
For the second time in the last few months, I found myself making an online post about the history of grocery stores on Foothill Blvd. in Upland, California (north of Ontario).

Let's start with Vons. When I moved to California in 1983, there was a Vons on the southwest corner of Euclid Avenue and Foothill Blvd. Several years later, this Vons was closed, as Vons restrategized and opened a Pavilions down on Mountain Avenue near Interstate 10 (wiping out an Ole's, a DMV, and a Chevron in the process). I believe that the theory was that the yuppies would drive home from Pasadena or whatever and stop at Pavilions on the way up the hill to San Antonio Heights. Well, something happened between theory and reality, because Vons decided to open a Vons again. However, the old site was apparently too small, so they opened one on the northwest corner of Euclid & Foothill. Both the Vons and Pavilions still exist as of today - I was certain that the recent grocery strike would result in the closure of the Pavilions, but I was wrong.

Now let's move west, to San Antonio and Foothill. There's a grocery site west of San Antonio, and one east. As of 1983, the one on the west was an Alpha Beta. The one on the east was (if I have the order correctly) a Ralphs. Eventually, Ralphs closed this store and concentrated on a property in northwest Ontario which held a Giant (since closed) and a Food 4 Less (recently closed). The new tenant east of San Antonio was Lucky. You may recall that Lucky's spokesperson was Stephanie Edwards, who would lecture us on why double coupons were evil. Anyway, that Luckys eventually closed (either before or after Albertson's bought Lucky - I can't remember which). Meanwhile, Alpha Beta was taken over by another grocery company, resulting in the Alpha Beta on the west side of San Antonio becoming...a Ralphs. The extremely wise Upland City Council, in their drive to "beautify" Route 66, put some improved Route 66 signage up in front of the Ralphs, which then promptly closed down. So, in the 21 years since I arrived in Southern California, the intersection of San Antonio and Foothill has gone from two grocery stores to none.

Stephanie Edwards appears on television once a year for the Rose Parade. I can tolerate her in small doses, as long as she doesn't push any Key Buys.

And if you want to read about the late Rosalie "Blue Roof" Kamansky and her views on a certain restaurant chain, you'll just have to go here and scroll down to the comments.

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Where There's An Emperor...
Over the last few years, I've been asked several times: "Why do you use the handle 'Ontario Emperor'?" I partially answered that question several years ago in my biography (as posted on Tripod):

The Inland Empire needs an emperor. The "Inland Emperors" are a band signed to a Seattle label. Hence, I am the Ontario Emperor. This is my virtual domain.

In other words, if I hadn't performed due diligence and conducted a web search, you'd be reading the words of the "Inland Emperor" right now. (Makes more sense...sort of.)

Well, the restriction against naming oneself after a Pacific Northwest band does not apply to women. There is an Inland Empress, whom I've never met.

So, just to avoid confusion in the blogosphere, I will offer you a handy-dandy guide so that you can tell the difference between the Ontario Emperor and the Inland Empress:

The Ontario Emperor lives in Ontario.
The Inland Empress lives in Upland.

The Inland Empress has a son who still poops in his pants.
The Ontario Emperor has a teenage daughter - and no, she doesn't.

The Empress (aided by her plosh) posts about parenthood, fruit, and poop. (And other stuff.)
The Emperor (not aided by his plosw) posts about technology, music, and littering the .net landscape. (And other stuff.)

The Emperor writes requirements documents and related material for a large multinational.
The Empress writes book reviews (well, one book review) for a large newspaper.

I hope you find this helpful. Next I will explain the fundamental differences between Bush's handlers and Kerry's handlers. (Hint: it's how you pronounce nucular.)

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Friday, July 23, 2004


Mind the Backyard
This one from InfoWorld's current Cringely:

You’d think the world’s largest Web registrar might remember when its own domain names were about to expire. But apparently that’s not the case at Network Solutions. Last week tipster Dana F. tried to dial up nsi.com, only to find the site unavailable and its domain registration lapsed. When the company discovered the gaffe, it slapped a quick one-year renewal on the domain; nsi.com has since been converted to Netsol’s new 100 Year Domain Service, says company spokesdude Jeff Grosman. OK, everyone who believes Network Solutions will be around in the year 2104, please raise your hand.

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Vulnerabilities in the Browser Interface Model
From Chad Dickerson's latest column:

At InfoWorld, our SFA, Web analytics, and CM (content management) systems are currently delivered in the browser, and others are moving in that direction. Clearly, the browser as an application delivery mechanism is here to stay. But is the continuing drive toward the browser ultimately a path to trouble? I’m starting to see some disturbing warning signs....

Part of what we are dealing with has very little to do with technology and more to do with exploits that attack the open philosophy behind the browser and the Web itself. And that’s what worries me most. The location window common to all browsers is infinitely malleable. Anyone who has passed a few moments waiting for a meeting to start by checking a sports score or an eBay auction knows the sense of self-determination the browser brings. IT can control where end-users browse, but should IT actively prevent a salesperson who’s just pulled a 14-hour day from taking a quick peek at a game score while working on a presentation, even if that freedom might lead to preventable spyware infection down the line?

Slightly more than a year ago, I urged IT to end its resistance to technologies that users want, saying: “The days of the paternalistic top-down IT department are nearly gone.” But lately, with the continuing scourge of spyware, phishing scams, and other browser-driven exploits, I’m seeing more end-users running to Papa for refuge from an IT environment that seems to be growing more chaotic rather than less. The browser will remain the center of the IT universe for the time being, but it’s going to be a long fight to keep it there in all its open glory.

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California Casino Entertainment
The whole Annie Jacobsen thingie has resulted in publicity for the Sycuan Casino & Resort - host to Nour Mehana and his bathroom-loving band.

As Indian and Asian casinos spring up in Southern California, they find that they have to bring in entertainment to compete with the Vegas casinos. However, the California casinos aren't resorting to man-eating tigers or Canadian singers to bring in the crowds. It's probably accurate to say that California casino entertainment is similar to what the Vegas casinos USED to offer.

As an example, here is a list of who has performed and will perform at the Sycuan Casino & Resort's Showcase Theater - courtesy Anthem Artists (for past shows) and the casino itself (for future shows). The list is partial:

01/10/03 Foghat
01/17/03 Rita Coolidge
03/18/03 Alan King
03/27/03 Lou Rawls
04/28-29/03 Paul Rodriguez
06/26/03 Dionne Warwick (did SHE know that all of this would happen?)
08/14/03 Tony Orlando
08/21/03 Rich Little
09/16/03 Mexican Independence Day Celebration (one of several special "ethnic" shows)
11/06/03 Little Richard & Daniel Tucker Band
11/13/03 & 11/14/03 Smokey Robinson
11/18/03 Roy Clark
12/19/03 Wayne Newton
01/23/04 Chinese New Year Celebration
02/25/04 The Smothers Brothers
02/29/04 Merle Haggard
03/10/04 Rick Springfield
05/13/04 Davy Jones
05/28/04 Vietnamese Night
06/15/04 Rob Hanna A Tribute to Rod Stewart
06/16/04 Hotel California A Tribute to the Eagles
06/17/04 Rain A Tribute to the Beatles
07/01/04 Nour Mehana
07/08/04 Carrot Top
07/27-31/04 Frank, Sammy, and Dean: A Rat Pack Show
08/05/04 Crystal Gayle
08/15/04 Vietnamese Night
08/22/04 The Four Tops
09/23/04 Cheap Trick
10/22/04 Bobby Vinton
10/29/04 Paul Rodriguez

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Meanwhile, Let's Get Back to Butt-Burning
I meant to cover this but never got around to it. Ironically, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin never covered the story. But Channel 4 did:

Teen Burned After Cell Phone Catches Fire
Warning Recently Issued About Verizon Phones

POSTED: 5:26 pm PDT July 1, 2004
UPDATED: 8:52 am PDT July 2, 2004

ONTARIO, Calif. -- A teenager was treated for minor burns Thursday after the cell phone in her back pocket caught on fire.

The girl was on her way into the Ontario Center in Ontario when an individual noticed smoke coming from the girl's phone....

The girl was doused with a bucket of water, then treated for a minor first-degree blister and released....

The phone is a Verison Kyocera. Although its model number was burned off, Verizon said last month recall letters went out saying model 414 had overheating issues, the same as model TM510, a Verizon phone that has been the subject of 18 prior incidents.

Verizon is offering to replace any batteries that individuals may feel are counterfeit. The phone's manufacturer blames counterfeit batteries that have flooded the market.

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Supplemental on the Girlie Men Diners
When I re-posted the Annie Jacobsen parody at Head in the Clouds, I posted some explanatory links which I'm reproducing here.

Here is the link to Annie Jacobsen's original article.

On June 29, 2004, at 12:28 p.m., I flew on Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles with my husband and our young son. Also on our flight were 14 Middle Eastern men between the ages of approximately 20 and 50 years old. What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats....

Here is the link to her second article.

Here's Clinton W. Taylor's identification of the musicians.

Well, I am nominally the "news director" for Stanford University's student radio station, KZSU, and I figured I'd help the Times out. There aren't that many casinos in southern California, so I had my research assistant, Mr. Google, take a look at some. An hour later I was talking to the nice folks at Sycuan Casino & Resort, near San Diego. Unlike most casinos where it's all Elvis impersonators, Paul Anka, and Linda Ronstadt — oh, wait, scratch that last one — Sycuan books the occasional "ethnic music" show, too. In August, for example, they'll have a Vietnamese night....And then I noticed something that was truly terrifying, something linking Nour Mehana to a figure of such repulsive evil that I felt a rush of prickly fear not unlike Jacobsen's: Just one week later, the same company that arranged Mehana's performance, also booked Carrot Top!

Here's one of several articles that discussed Governor Schwarzenegger's "girlie men" remark. (In retrospect, I should have staged my fictional incident at the Mills....)

Schwarzenegger dished out the insult at a rally Saturday as he claimed Democrats were delaying the budget by catering to special interests.

"If they don't have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers ... if they don't have the guts, I call them girlie men," Schwarzenegger said to the cheering crowd at a mall food court in Ontario.

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They Weren't Terrorists...They Weren't Desert Casino-Bound Musicians...They Were Girlie Men!

Note from the E-ditors: You are about to read an account of what DIDN'T happen during a NON-EXISTENT restaurant visit by one of our writers, Ontario Emperor. The Empoblog Editorial Team debated long and hard about how to handle this information and ultimately we decided it was something that should be shared. What does it have to do with synthetica or NTN trivia? Nothing, and everything. Here is Ontario's story. (P.S. Who is Annie Jacobsen?)

On July 21, 2004, at 7:37 p.m., I ate at the Denny's Restaurant in Guasti, California with my wife and our young daughter. Also in our restaurant were 14 Scandinavian men between the ages of approximately 20 and 50 years old. What I experienced during that meal has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from moral threats.

On that Wednesday, our dinner began uneventfully. Starting out that evening in Ontario, California, we drove to the Denny's in Guasti. Guasti is a small enclave in Ontario, less than one-half mile from a major international airport. With no security check required at the door we waited for our table. Standing near us, also waiting to eat, was a group of six Finnish men. They were carrying passports with a lot of i's and u's. Two men wore tracksuits with the word "SUOMI" across the back. Two carried musical instrument cases - thin, flat, 18" long. One wore a yellow T-shirt and held a McDonald's bag. And the sixth man had a bad leg -- he wore an orthopedic shoe and limped.

My thirteen-year-old daughter was determined to get an adult menu, so I turned to the men behind me and said, "You go ahead, this could be awhile." "No, you go ahead," one of the men replied. He smiled pleasantly and extended his arm for me to pass. He was young, maybe late 20's and had a goatee. I thanked him and we went to our table.

Once in the restaurant, we took our seats at table 6. The man with the yellow shirt and the McDonald's bag sat across the aisle from us (at table 7). The pleasant man with the goatee sat a few tables back (in table 11). The rest of the men were seated throughout the restaurant.

As we sat waiting for the waitress to take our drink order, we noticed another large group of Finnish men entering. The first man wore a dark suit and sunglasses. He sat at table 1. The other seven men were seated at other tables. As "aware" Americans, my wife and I exchanged glances, and then continued to get comfortable. I noticed some of the other diners paying attention to the situation as well. As seating continued, we watched as, one by one, most of the Finnish men made eye contact with each other. They continued to look at each other and nod, as if they were all in agreement about something. I could tell that my wife was beginning to feel "anxious."

Once we ordered our iced teas and club sodas, the unusual activity began. I overheard someone asking for a tuna fish pizza. Meanwhile, the man in the yellow T-shirt got out of his seat and went to the lavatory -- taking his full McDonald's bag with him. When he came out of the lavatory he still had the McDonald's bag, but it was now almost empty. He walked to the back of the restaurant, still holding the bag. When he passed two of the men, he gave a thumbs-up sign. When he returned to his seat, he no longer had the McDonald's bag.

Then another man from the group stood up and took something from his duffel bag. It was about a foot long and was rolled in cloth. He headed toward the back of the restaurant with the object. Five minutes later, several more of the Finnish men began using the lavatory consecutively.

Watching all of this, my wife was now beyond "anxious." I decided to try to reassure my wife (and maybe myself) by walking to the back bathroom. I knew the goateed-man I had exchanged friendly words with as we entered the restaurant was seated nearby, so I thought I would say hello to the man to get some reassurance that everything was fine. As I stood up and turned around, I glanced in his direction and we made eye contact. I threw out my friendliest "remember-me-we-had-a-nice-exchange-just-a-short-time-ago" smile. The man did not smile back. His face did not move. In fact, the cold, defiant look he gave me sent shivers down my spine.

When I returned to my seat I was unable to assure my wife that all was well. My wife immediately walked to the front of the restaurant to talk with the hostess. "I might be overreacting, but I've been watching some really suspicious things..." Before she could complete her statement, the flight attendant pulled her outside into the parking lot. In a quiet voice she explained that they were all concerned about what was going on. The manager was aware. The waitresses were passing notes to each other. She said that there were people in the restaurant "higher up than you and me watching the men." My wife returned to her seat and relayed this information to me. He was feeling slightly better. I was feeling much worse.

Then, when the waitress was showing us the dessert menu, it hit me. In a quiet voice, I whispered to the waitress, "Please have the manager meet me in the parking lot." I then quietly got up from my seat, walked outside, and waited.

Two minutes later, the manager came out, accompanied by a second man with a military haircut, a neatly ironed dress shirt, military boots, and cut-off jeans shorts. I suspected that this person was an undercover Federal agent. As they approached me, I quietly stated what I had observed.

"They're a bunch of girlie men."

The second man looked at me quizically.

"They're girlie men! Isn't it obvious? Would any real men go to the lavatory in a group? Only women and girlie men do that!"

The manager looked at me in disgust. "I am nonplused by your comment," he said. "I don't know what the definition of 'girlie man' is. As opposed to their being he-men? I've undergone 80 hours of Denny's sensitivity training over the last two years, and quite frankly your statement offends me."

The second man walked a short distance away from us and started whispering into a cellular phone. When I saw that the man was using a Nokia phone, I knew that I was in trouble....

Through a series of events, The Los Angeles Times heard about my story. I talked briefly about my experience with a representative from the newspaper. Within a few hours I received a call from Dave Adams, the public spokesperson for San Bernardino County's restaurant inspection team. Adams told me what he knew:

There were 14 Finns in the Guasti Denny's. They were questioned at length by Ontario police, San Bernardino Sheriff's deputies, and a salesman from Mark Christopher Chevrolet upon leaving the restaurant. The 14 Finns had been hired as musicians to play at a casino in the desert. Adams said they were "scrubbed." None had arrest records (in America, I presume), none showed up on the FBI's "no eat" list or the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List. The men checked out and they were let go.

As for me, I'm brown-bagging...but I'm a little suspicious of that checker at Stater Brothers...

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004


"This Land" Shockwave
Atom Films has published a Woody Guthrie-inspired song duel between George W. Bush and John Kerry entitled "This Land".

JibJab's blog is documenting the sudden popularity of "This Land." From July 12:

In all the years we’ve been making these cartoons, we’ve never received a reaction like the one we got for “This Land”. On its first day, it did 3X the traffic we did with “Ahnuld for Governor” – and that one went all the way to Sundance! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. When you pass around these cartoons, you’re not only showing the people you know how cool and hip you are… you are also increasing the odds that our cartoon winds up in the inbox of an advertising executive with a gigantic budget looking to hire an animation studio… and that’s when we get PAID!

From July 16:

Did you ever see that TV commercial with the people gathered around the computer watching their website traffic go up and up? At first they’re thrilled, then the panic sets in? That’s us about three days ago. Now we feel more like “The Old Man and the Sea”. We’re the old man, JibJab is the skiff and you people are one giant mutha f’ing shark!

Ever since Brian Wilson put us on FOX News, our server has been buckling under pressure, serving millions and millions of movies around the world. It’s amazing to think that two brothers in a warehouse in Santa Monica can create and distribute a cartoon worldwide without the help of a mega media conglomerate. The Inter-web is a beautiful thing!


UPDATE JULY 27

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Who Says That Democrats Are Socialists?
They're good, honest, hard working capitalists, as you can see from this excerpt from www.sacramentogirliemen.com t-shirt sales site:

$24 each. And 20% of proceeds will benefit the California Democratic Party, which as you may have noticed could use the help.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Political Correctness Changes Since 1999
 
On my recent vacation, I attended the Tournament of Kings show at the
Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas. It's basically like any horse show (Dixie Stampede near Dollywood, Medieval Times near Knott's), but with a little more plot. Here's part of a 2001 review of the show:

Families should take particular interest, since "Tournament of Kings" basically reverses the demographics of the other shows.

The optimum audience for the clashing, bashing knights-in-the-round spectacle are boys ages 5 to 13.

After that, you could throw in all males 14 to 50, since this age group possesses a uniform sense of humor and unwavering thirst for staged action in the World Wrestling Federation mold.

Next come females ages 8 to 25, since the knights on horseback are certified hotties, some of them throwing around long Fabio-style tresses as easily as they hurl a javelin. Bryan Ludens, the guy who plays Prince Christopher, even draws a little 'N Sync-style screaming.

Pulling up last? The 25-and-over females and the over-50 couples who nearly every other show on the Strip caters to anyway. And isn't there enough Tom Jones, Paul Anka and men in dresses for them?

You can even go so far as to say "Tournament of Kings" is a hefty dose of macho to counterbalance a Strip that heavily favors men cavorting to New Age music in pastel leotards or dancing in white dinner jackets trimmed with sequins.


I wasn't really checking out the demographics, but I'm sure that the price (currently approaching $50) limits the number of 5 year old boys that see the show.

This one took a knowing look at video games and TV wrasslin' when it overhauled the old "King Arthur's Tournament" in early 1999. The Dragon Knight and his henchmen summoned by the treacherous Mordred sport helmets worthy of "Mortal Kombat."

"Worthy" is an overstatement. When I first saw the "sport helmets," I thought of bad Japanese action shows, not formerly trendy video games. I was waiting for Pikachu to emerge from Merlin's hat.

Dessert? That's right. This is one of only two dinner shows left on the Strip, making the two-for-one offer even more of a bargain. Famously, however, the Cornish game hen, broccoli and potatoes are served sans utensils. Can't handle that, Girly Man? Then remember to smuggle some plastic ones in from the food court.

OH NO SHOCK SHOCK THE REVIEWER SAID GIRLY MAN THUS COMMITTING A GRIEVIOUS INSULT TO ALL PEOPLE THE PAPER SHOULD BE BANNED FROM PUBLISHING FOREVER (INSERT MORE FAKE HYSTERIA HERE)

Well, other than Pikachu's enemies, I enjoyed the show myself.

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Friday, July 02, 2004


Coke Fiends on Military Bases a Security Threat?
Perhaps you've heard the commercial in which a guy is building a bonfire in his front yard so that Coke will deliver his SUV to the right place. This commercial is part of Coke's "Unexpected Summer" promotion - and it has the military worried:

For the promotion, Coke outfitted 120 random cans with built-in GPS cell phones. Buyers who find one of the cans can use the embedded phone to call and register for prizes....The military reportedly feels threatened by these phones, thinking they could be used as eavesdropping devices. Some military bases are banning Coke. Coke says it is impossible for the can to be an eavesdropping device.

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Radio Killed the Luggage Tracking Star
According to Slashdot and the New York Times, Delta Airlines will start using dispoable RFID tags to track luggage. This is seen as a cost-saving measure; the estimated $25 million investment may significantly reduce the $100 million per year that Delta spends in handling lost baggage.

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You Have to Execute on Your Ideas
I once had an idea for a TV show to air on public access cable, or perhaps on an independent TV station such as the ones Poorman (Jim Trenton) uses.

In my concept, someone would get in a car and mount a camera on it. As the car drove around, the camera's images would be broadcast on TV. In my vision, the car would drive by burger joints on Friday nights, and Vitamin C fans and similar types would wave to the camera and shout profound thoughts ("Party!").

Well, a guy named Nick has executed on part of my idea. LA Avenue has a live cam which drives through Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and the like while Nick is working. There are slide shows that capture the more memorable moments.

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