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Monday, January 31, 2005

Perhaps It's Just Because It's Super Bowl Week...
...but I'm getting three times the usual hits today, and everyone's looking for Krystal Fernandez information. Here are some quickie links to a few items:

Webmasters, change your defaults


Solving the Krystal Fernandez poster mystery

Hi, Ontario. XOX Farrah (Ironically, I ran into a Farrah at Tequila Hoppers on Saturday (finally played NTN for the first time this year), but she was a brunette.)

My candidates for President in 2008

No Krystal Fernandez in San Francisco?

Krystal Fernandez gay? Doesn't appear to be

Musical chairs

The Extravaganza co-host/Is in love with Esther

Krystal Fernandez resume, entry 21

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Hey, Call It Play Advertising
So, back in June 2003 I released my paperback copy of Huckleberry Finn.

A year and a half later, I joined the cast of "Big River."

Oh well...

(And Huckleberry Finn probably won't be reviewed on Book Buds. Our theater company had to perform massive edits to the script as is to make it acceptable for school audiences.)

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Super Bowl Super Bowl Super Bowl - There, I Said It Again
In the finest tradition of Ann Landers, I am going to recycle some stuff that I said over a year ago:

A lot of people are referring to a "big game" on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida.

For example, the WA1A website includes the following:






And the Giant Eagle website contains the following:

After the holidays pass, the fun isn't over quite yet! It's time for the Big Game! This year, the game is being held Sunday, February 6, 2005 at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida - you won't want to miss it.

And what better reason to have a party! It's a delicious way to cheer your team on while gathering your fellow fans together for a fun-filled evening. It is believed that there are more in-home parties for The Big Game than any other event of the year, even New Year's Eve!

If you check these web pages, you will notice that there is a two-word phrase that does not appear anywhere on these pages. The first word of this phrase starts with an S, the second with a B. Yes, these pages talk about a "big game" in Jacksonville, but never explicitly state that this game is commonly known as the...Super Bowl.

I'm not sure why there is this reluctance. From what I can tell, "Super Bowl" is not a trademark. The NFL lawyers put the following statement at the bottom of the superbowl.com page:

© 2005, NFL Enterprises LLC. NFL and the NFL shield design are registered trademarks of the National Football League. The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated. No portion of this site may be reproduced without the express written permission of NFL Enterprises and SportsLine.com. NFL Enterprises and SportsLine.com take no responsibility for third-party material appearing in any bulletin board or chat sections of this site. All rights reserved.

(Incidentally, you may note that I have just reproduced part of the site without permission. Rut roh.)

Well, it's a mystery to me. And my intentional reference to the R.E.M. song "Binky the Doormat" is probably a mystery to you.

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Chris Rose Departure
Speaking of Fox, I believe that "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" will suffer without Chris Rose in the mix. Rose fulfilled the same role that James Brown fulfills on the Fox NFL pre-game broadcasts - an island of sanity in an environment of loud yuk-yuk artists. Here's some coverage that I missed until today, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

After three years as host of FSN Ohio's "Best Damn Sports Show Period," Chris Rose is leaving - and it's the best darn move the Shaker Heights native could make for his career.

Yes, the "BDSSP" gig brought Rose great exposure....But it also came at a price - each evening, Rose had to babysit buffoonish "BDSSP" star Tom Arnold (a comedian who knows little about sports) and fellow contributor John Salley (a former NBA player whose egotistical rants suggest he hasn't yet accepted the "former" part)....

Rose plans to do play-by-play on upcoming Arena Football League and NFL Europe telecasts - with an eye towards eventually doing NFL broadcasts on Fox.

The Pro Wrestling Insider, however, is happy about the move:

According to...the New York Post The FOX Sports Network has dropped Chris Rose from the Best Damned Sports Show. Some of you may remember Rose as the goof wearing the "Wrestling is Fake" T-shirt during the TNA specials a few months back. Tom Arnold is the new lead host of the show, which is good as he's a big wrestling fan.

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Webmasters, Change Your Defaults
For some reason, Van Earl Wright, Andrew Siciliano, and other participants in the Fox Morning Extravaganza (on location in Jacksonville, Florida) spent a good part of this morning's show talking about the Krystal Burger. (They especially liked the hot buns.)

So, when the Fox Morning Extravaganza returns to Southern California, will they be able to find this Southern delicacy?

On initial view, the website looks encouraging in that regard. If you click on their Krystal Locator button, the sample Street Address and City/State/Zip code are in Redlands, California. So, if you enter the city of Los Angeles, California, you find that the nearest Krystal Burger is just down the road...in Killeen, Texas. (Heck, there are Cracker Barrels closer than that.)

Well, some of my readers probably already know what's at 380 New York Street in Redlands. So it appears that the Krystal webpeople didn't bother to change the default text in ESRI's search capabilities.

Or perhaps Krystal is planning to expand into California, but I doubt it. The business climate isn't all that hot (which is partially why Cracker Barrel isn't here either). And anyway, we don't need no steenking Krystal Burger or White Castle - we have Bakers and In-N-Out and Farmer Boys.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Pictures from the Disneyland Resort
When I first moved to California in 1983, there was just Disneyland, a lot of parking, and the Disneyland Hotel across the street. Over 21 years later, there are now two theme parks (Disneyland and California Adventure), even more parking (including a gargantuan six-story parking structure), three hotels, and a brand new shopping area called Downtown Disney that includes your usual mall traps (Wetzel's Pretzels, Build a Bear), some out of the ordinary stores (a Lego store), and examples of Disney cross promotion (a World of Disney store, an ESPN Zone).

If you live in Southern California, and you have an annual pass, it's conceivable that you'd go to Disneyland and not actually go to Disneyland. While my wife and I were in Orange County last Saturday morning, we drove to the resort (using our free parking privileges), went to the guest relations area to ask a question about pass renewal, spent some time shopping in the World of Disney store, and left. If we had more time, we might have gotten a FastPass for Soaring Over California, but we had other errands to run.

The pictures below were mostly taken in or near the World of Disney store, but a few were taken at the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

The Mickey and Friends parking structure sits off of Disneyland Dr. and is accessible by taking Ball Rd. westbound to Disneyland Dr. and making a left. Guests who are Annual Passholders are required to park in this location, and may not park in the Timon or Simba lots.

Actually, you can park in the other lots...you just have to pay for it. If you have the highest level annual pass, parking at Mickey and Friends is free.

Guests traveling with RVs, trailer-tractors or other oversized vehicles must also park in a special area next to the Mickey and Friends structure as no other lot provides spaces large enough....The Mickey and Friends structure is north of the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney lot. The six story parking structure holds over ten thousand cars and is the largest structure in the United States. There are numerous trams running to the structure, and it takes less time to get to the Main Entrances from here than from the Simba lot. A large, landscaped tram stop is located next to the structure at the bottom of the escalators. The structure is accessible by escalator and elevator, and is also the only parking location with restrooms. Once aboard, the tram will take you to the Mickey and Friends tram load/unloading area. The Mickey and Friends tram stop and loading/unloading area is located in front of the entrance to the Grand Californian Hotel....Guests who would prefer to walk into the park may do so by crossing over into the Downtown Disney lot, where they can access the Downtown Disney walkway over Disneyland Drive, through Downtown Disney to the main entrances of the theme parks.

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A view of the crowds walking between Downtown Disney, Disneyland, and California Adventure. Posted by Hello

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A view of part of Downtown Disney, the shopping area between Disneyland/California Adventure on the east and the Disneyland Hotel on the west. Posted by Hello

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La Brea Bakery at Downtown Disney. Posted by Hello

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Entrance to the World of Disney at Downtown Disney. World of Disney is a huge gargantuan store stocked with all things Disney. Posted by Hello

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Disney brand hot chocolate at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney. I know that people in other parts of the world would prefer to see pictures of Sleeping Beauty's Castle or something more "photogenic," but I'm fascinated by this whole Disney merchandising thing. Years ago I worked for a poster company, and the Disney licensed posters enjoyed significant sales. People realize this, and so you have candy, hot chocolate, games, and everything else carrying the Disney name. The ironic thing is that Disney stumbled into licensing by accident; Walt needed money, so he authorized the first licensing deal, launching the company into a business that has brought millions and millions and millions of dollars of revenue to the firm. And I'd be willing to bet that the hot chocolate isn't bad either. Posted by Hello

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Disney's version of Clue at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney. Posted by Hello

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Disney's version of Candy Land at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney. Posted by Hello

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The Incredibles Display at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney. I can now officially claim that this blog has a picture of Elastigirl. However, you have to look elsewhere to find a picture of a naked Elastigirl (as Jughead once never said, it's a "comie strip").  Posted by Hello

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A sign near the Mickey and Friends parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. Posted by Hello

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The escalators for the six-level Mickey and Friends parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. Posted by Hello

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A small part of the Mickey and Friends parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. Posted by Hello

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A small part of the Mickey and Friends parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. Posted by Hello

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Song and Station Recommendations
Song recommendation: Instinctive, "Ocean of Freedom (original)." Played on di.fm's Trance channel.

Incidentally, I've been tweaking my Yahoo! Launchcast Station so that there is a higher mix of trancy dancy songs. Why? Because there isn't a 24 hour Inland Empire-accessible radio station that plays this kind of music. And yet it still plays an occasional William Hung or Johnny Cash or whatever. Take that, KRRC.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

How a Pointless Brain Spasm Becomes a Law
In the context of selective lack of prosecution against anti-Christians, Jimmy Akin made the following statement:

I have a quibble about one point: Just because the law may provide a penalty does not mean that the penalty is just. The law can overreach justice, and I think that is what happens with "hate crime" legislation.

Such legislation selectively isolates motive in some cases in order to extend special protections to certian groups (the targets of the "hate"). In reality, anybody who has a crime committed against him is the victim of malice, and to create certain classes protected by "hate crime" legislation selectively favors these classes over others, who are equally victims of malice. This contributes to the polarization of our society and works against the fundamental principle of equal justice for all.

Consequently, I don't favor hate crimes legislation. I don't favor it when it works to the benefits of groups to which I don't belong or of groups to which I do belong (e.g., Catholics, Christians, religious people, pro-lifers).

To my mind, if someone commits vandalism, you charge him with vandalism. You don't charge him with vandalism plus harming a specially-protected group.

So, to the folks down in Lousiana, I say: Run these malefactors out of town on a rail, but do it on the vandalism charge, not the "hate crimes" charge. We'll all be better off the sooner we get over this "hate crimes" nonsense.

While I believe that Jimmy is right (the vandalism charge should be enough), I broadened the examination a little bit in the comments section:

Looking at this from a broader sense, it's not really about protection of special groups. It's about having to come up with new laws because we don't enforce the old ones.

Here's a hypothetical example:

All states have laws against speeding, but these laws are not always enforced.

One day in a central California city, a near-sighted woman carrying a shopping bag of avocados is in a crosswalk next to an elementary school, and is nearly hit by a driver talking on a cell phone, eating a taco, and driving 26 mph in a 25 mph zone. The woman drops the avocados, and two of them are badly bruised.

Now, in the rational world, the driver would be cited for speeding. Unfortunately, several political advisers to California Assemblypersons read the story about the near-miss, and each of them came up with his/her own solution to make sure that this terrible event would never happen again.

The first one gets a bill through the Assembly banning cell phone use in moving cars.

The second one gets a bill through the Assembly banning eating in moving cars (although California products such as avocados were eventually excluded from the ban).

The third one gets a bill through the Assembly providing special protection to people with vision problems (and, via amendment, providing special protection to people under 5' 6" and over 6' 1").

The fourth one gets a bill through the Assembly allowing civil lawsuits (including pain and suffering) for persons who lose personal property in a school zone due to a threat to the public safety (although an amendment explicitly stated that blaring rap music was NOT a threat to the public safety).

All four Assemblypersons bragged about the bills they had passed, and proclaimed to one and all that California was now a safer place because of their prompt action on behalf of the people.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

That Would Be A Fun Job
I occasionally get to visit Ottawa on business, and I like the city - even in the winter. Well, I've decided to try to get a job that would let me visit Ottaw more often.

I got the inspiration while (I mean whilst) reading Farbled:

I like Mexico, but I think I'm more suited to just visit. If I ever become a Canadian senator then I guess I'll have to move there, but until then... (for you non-Canadians, its a long standing joke that our "appointed for life" senators don't even live in our country, sad that its more true than false eh?).

It turns out that Canadians don't like their Senate. Here's an excerpt from a piece entitled Outrageous Canadian Political Facts:

This page is for those citizens who are concerned that their senators might be overabundant, overpaid and inefficient. Where does $50 million a year go?
Pigs are such loving, intelligent little persons, who are treated abysmally by humans, that it is a shame to compare them to senators.

Here's what Canada's prime oinkers get:

THE SALARY - A basic $70,000.00 per year and an extra $150.00 for every day they show up in the senate. This is an incentive for them to actually be there, rather than retiring to Mexico on the generous salary and expense account.

THE JOB: - The Senate meets on average for 100 days a year. Senators are allowed to miss 21 days without losing any salary.

THE EXTRAS - * Research Grants (for what?) $30,000.00 per year. * Office Budget $20,000.00 per year. * Tax Free Expense Allowance $10,100.00 * Free Business Class flights for Senators and their families, as many as 52 return-trip flights a year. * Free telephone calls and faxes, and also free postage, at home as well as office. * Free Gym privileges, private equipment and instructors. * Subsidized (that means REALLY CHEAP!) haircuts, dry cleaning, furniture, limousine rides.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Write! Write! Write! to every newspaper and politician. Get Canada's Senators off the elite welfare roll! It is a disgrace to Canada that we could hire ten people who actually want to work for the same price our Senators get in salary and perks. Our Senate should be cut to one tenth its size so it would be a fair representation of population as well as less costly. Canada might be better off if it was abolished altogether.

Here are portions of a 1997 Washington Post article on the Canadian Senate:

When it was established along with the rest of the country in 1867, the Canadian Senate was designed as a hybrid between Britain's hereditary House of Lords and the equal state representation provided by the U.S. Congress's upper chamber. Appointed to their posts for life, members had to own property and were expected to balance the populist House of Commons with the "sober second thought" befitting landed nobility....

These days, however, it isn't just Canada's 104 senators who are having second thoughts. With one of the chamber's members on extended vacation in Mexico and rampant absenteeism on the part of about two dozen others, Canadians are wondering whether it is the Senate itself that is proving fickle....

The current anxiety focuses on Andrew Thompson, an Ontario politician and former House of Commons member named to the Senate by then-Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in the 1960s.

True to its reputation as a clubhouse where strength of character is the only restraint, the Senate did not keep attendance records back then. But in recent years, after the public and media decided that even honorable men need watching, it became apparent that Thompson and a good many other senators did their sober thinking elsewhere.

According to reviews of Senate records published in several Canadian papers recently, Thompson attended fewer than 3 percent of Senate sessions over the last decade. He continues to draw his approximately $60,000 annual salary but spends much of the year at his home in La Paz, Mexico.

During his rare appearances on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, he signed papers saying that he was still conducting Senate business and offered a medical excuse for his absence – documents required for his paychecks to keep flowing. One of his assistants explained in interviews published here that Thompson has a condition that affects his immune system and would be aggravated by the Canadian winter.

That might have been sufficient in a more forgiving era, but no longer. Canadian journalists tracked Thompson down at his Mexican home, and pictures started trickling back of his substantial villa and his leisurely walks in the sun.

Last month, Prime Minister Jean Chretien booted him from the Liberal caucus, and his colleagues are moving to strip him of his office space, his research expenses and his secretary's salary.

None of those steps affect his membership, however; that can't be revoked. He must retire in two years when he turns 75 – a change from the lifetime appointment that existed until the 1960s – but until then he is untouchable.

Thompson is by no means the only truant. According to Senate records published recently by the Globe and Mail daily newspaper, about a quarter of Canada's senators missed at least 40 percent of the chamber's sessions....

[A]ttendance rules...currently excuse senators for virtually any reason – from corporate board meetings to charitable functions. Essentially, if a member does not feel like traveling to Ottawa, he or she can stay home – or fly to Mexico – with impunity....

Incidentally, Thompson eventually resigned. [I]n 1998, Senator Andrew Thompson resigned after Prime Minister Chretien removed him from the Liberal caucus. Between 1990 and 1997, Senator Thompson attended only fourteen Senate meetings. Dubbed the “Tequila Senator” by the media, Thompson faxed his resignation from his home in Mexico..

Well, the beauty thing about serving in the Canadian Senate is that you don't even have to be elected - Senators are appointed by the Prime Minister. So how do I get on Paul Martin's good side?

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Well, I Can't Afford a Nanny, Even At Rock Bottom Below-Minimum Wages
As expected, John and Ken are ripping the ad posted by "the Entertainment Community" - or at least a couple of dozen members. They say the following:

On the eve of this year's Oscar nominations, one group of celebrities has come up with a new category - "Best Nanny in a Supporting Role."

The mock award was featured Monday in an ad signed by more than 30 actors, writers and musicians in a Hollywood trade paper, urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to approve a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.

Celebrities such as Diane Keaton, Carlos Santana and "Million Dollar Baby" writer Paul Haggis took out the ad in Variety. They argue it will make roads safer and that the ability to drive is a civil right.

The ad features a picture of a Hispanic woman and two young children with the caption, "Nominated: Best Nanny in a Supporting Role."

It reads: "I am trusted everyday to use my hands and my heart to nurture and care for children who are not my own ... I am welcomed into the most personal parts of people's lives, but I'm not trusted with a license to drive a car."

The ad was orchestrated in part by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who has led the licensing effort and is hoping a little Hollywood influence will give the campaign a boost. Earlier this month he held a screening in Sacramento of the film "Spanglish," about a Hispanic maid who takes a bus to the Beverly Hills home where she works.

Among the ad's other signatories are Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez, Alfre Woodward, Danny Glover and musician Jackson Browne.

"A lot of us in the entertainment business are terribly spoiled, and we live in a world where we are overprotected and overpaid," Haggis said. "At the same time, I think we have a duty to give voice to those who perhaps haven't the same access. It's about basic fairness."

Mike Spence, who is leading a campaign to permanently prohibit undocumented immigrants in California from obtaining drivers licenses and other social services, disagreed.

"I think it's another example of how rich Hollywood elites are out of touch with what's going on in California," Spence said. "They don't see the impact of immigration unless it's hiring someone to help out with chores around their mansions ... and they're not in competition with illegal immigrants for jobs."...

About one-quarter of the roughly 26 million drivers on state roadways each day lack insurance, according to the Personal Insurance Federation of California. An estimated 2.4 million people living in California are illegal immigrants.

California began demanding proof of legal residency for drivers licenses in 1994, placing itself among 40 states and the District of Columbia with similar policies. California's neighbors, including Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Utah, don't have the requirement.

Speaking of nannies, the following was written by Rich Lowry after Bernard Kerik withdrew from consideration for Homeland Security Secretary after it was revealed that he had hired an illegal alien nanny:

The political elite, which otherwise maintains an unshakable insouciance about the widespread disregard for the country's immigration laws, seems to think these laws should only be vigorously enforced when it comes to people nominated for Cabinet posts....This double standard is, of course, absurd. We would never insist that only Cabinet nominees pay income taxes or abide by drug or labor laws.

But politicos seem to realize that the largely upper-middle-class indulgence of hiring illegal household help, when engaged in by people nominated to enforce our laws, risks igniting a populist revolt best avoided. Thus Kerik — nominated to head a department with responsibility for immigration enforcement, for goodness' sake! — had to go....

[I]t is a sign of the schizophrenia inherent in our system that the 1986 immigration reform actually made it illegal to ask a prospective employee about his legal status prior to hiring. That is considered discriminatory. The Office of Special Council for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices in the Department of Justice is responsible for cracking down on employers too vigilant — or vigilant in the wrong ways — about not hiring illegal workers. Given that in 2002 only 13 employers were sanctioned for hiring illegals, the federal government's priorities here are obviously badly skewed....

Open-borders advocates make it sound as though there were never any housekeepers or nannies prior to the age of mass illegal immigration. There were. And somehow today, in those large swaths of the country without any illegal immigrants to speak of, people still manage to get their houses cleaned and their children cared for.

The reliance on illegal labor on the coasts and in major urban areas is deeply corrupting. It fosters a casual contempt for the law among those who do the hiring, and it hurts the country's most economically vulnerable citizens. Poorly educated workers who might compete for the kind of jobs taken by illegals are either shoved out of the way entirely or see their wages cut by the unfair competition. Democrats and Republicans both tend to buck popular sentiment to defend this status quo for their own reasons — Democrats to pander to ethnic lobbies; Republicans to pander to businesses that like cheap labor with no rights....

According to the International Nanny Association's most recent salary survey, the respondents stated that nannies in Los Angeles average 45 hours a week and make between $450 and $1100 a week. In other words, the surveyed nannies were making at least $10 an hour, which is above California's current minimum wage (for those who don't know, California has set a higher minimum wage than the rest of the country). No word on whether these nannies are legal, or how much the illegal alien nannies in Hollywood make.

The International Nanny Association did NOT host the following exchange:

Posted by Visitor
My friend's nanny is undocumented but has a tax identification number and wants to file taxes to claim her child as a dependent.
1) Does the tax identification number allow the nanny to legally file taxes for an expected refund?
2) Is my friend obligated to file taxes for her undocumented nanny?
3) Moreover, isn't it illegal to hire an undocumented worker?
Posted by HETO
In Reply to: undocumented nanny with tax identification number posted by Visitor:

An employer is required to verify the employee's eligibility to work in the U.S. This is done using the form I-9 which specifies exactly what documents are required to prove that the worker may legally work in the U.S. If not, then the employer may not legally hire and pay that worker.

But the last word on the subject belongs to Deanna Swift. I encourage all of my ultra-wealthy readers to follow the link to the PDF.

WASHINGTON, DC—Just days after the Bush administration's nominee for Homeland Security secretary withdrew his name after recalling that he'd hired an illegal alien as a nanny, the IRS has introduced a new form to prevent such complications in the future. The new tax document, Form 1040 HA (click to download PDF), will make it easier for the wealthy to pay employment taxes on behalf of the legions of undocumented workers who tend their lawns, take their of children, and keep their pools free of leaves and other material.

At an unveiling ceremony this morning, IRS spokesperson Donald Cheezum said that the new form simply reflects a fact of life for millions of wealthy Americans. "Let's face it, most of the rich and powerful have a 'nanny problem' or a 'lawn boy problem.'" By making it easier for them to pay taxes on illegal workers, said Cheezum, the Bernard Keriks of the world "are much less likely to run into trouble the next time they get nominated for a cabinet post."

In recent years, "nanny problems" have ended the cabinet dreams of several nominees including Linda Chavez, nominated by President Bush to run the Department of Labor, the government office in charge of enforcing labor standards. Chavez was forced to withdraw her name from the running after she revealed that an undocumented worker had been living in her home and doing household chores including vacuuming, dusting, and caring for Chavez' two Pomeranians. Bill Clinton's first pick for attorney general, Zoe Baird, was also forced to withdraw after admitting she employed two undocumented workers and did not pay employee taxes for them as the law required.

Bernard Kerik, who withdrew his name on Saturday, still hasn't said where his nanny was from, or how long she was in his employ. The nanny reportedly left the country two weeks ago.

Form 1040HA will be available to taxpayers for the 2004 tax year. The IRS is sending extra copies of the form to wealthy suburbs including Bloomfield Hills, MI, and Chevy Chase, MD.

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If you're only fired for blogging, consider yourself lucky (or, why the Empoblog doesn't receive a lot of comments from Teheran)
Via Queen of Sky, via the Committee to Protect Bloggers. From Reporters sans frontières:

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of journalist Arash Sigarchi who was arrested on 17 January 2005, after responding to a summons from the intelligence ministry in Rashat in the north of the country.

He had been updating a weblog that has been banned by the authorities, Panhjareh Eltehab (The window of Anguish), in which he had spoken out against recent arrests of cyberjournalists and bloggers....

Sigarchi is the editor of the daily Gylan Emroz. A few days before his arrest he was interviewed by two foreign radio stations, the BBC World Service and Radio Farda.

He had already been imprisoned for several days, from 27 August 2004, for an article, illustrated with photographs, of a rally in Tehran by families of prisoners who were executed in 1989.

Sigarchi has for nearly three years run a political and cultural weblog www.sigarchi.com/blog, in which he mounted repeated criticism of the regime. He had condemned harassment of journalists arrested in a series of Internet cases...and in particular the mistreatment inflicted on his colleagues Shahram Rafihzadeh and Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi. The authorities have made his blog inaccessible within Iran.

He has been held since 17 January at Lakan Prison in Rashat where he has been denied the right to see a lawyer and bail has been set at 2 bilion rials (around 200 000 euros). The authorities have put pressure on his mother to deny that her son has been arrested.

Nearly 20 people have been arrested over the past three months in a crackdown against the online press. Apart from Sigarchi, another weblogger, Mojtaba Saminejad, is still in prison.

At the start of January, Tehran's prosecutor-general, Said Mortazavi, ordered Internet Service Providers to block the main weblogs - Orkut, Nedstat, Blogspot, Persianblog, Blogrolling and others. Iranian Internet-users are now almost entirely cut off from the blogsphere....

Incidentally, the Iranian government's attitude toward blogs is not necessarily the mainstream. A quick search for Muslim blogs uncovered Muslim WakeUp, avari/nameh, and veiled4allah. It figures that Muslims would champion new scientific advances.

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Happiness and Sadness
Dayli is back.

I am Back. To re-expose myself. As the successful, independent career woman....As the unabashed flirt, forever seeking masculine attention....

Da Goddess is hurt.

I was injured the other night as I was attempting to help a patient. To be quite honest, I thought nothing of it when it first happened. I figured a hot shower, some Tylenol, and a little sleep would be all I needed. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

After spending the day with doctors and nurse practitioners, I am under orders to do as little as possible. Normally, this would be a welcome thing. Now, I'm left with a lot of time on my hands and the complete and utter inability to do any of the fabulous, fun things I'd like to do with spare moments. I can do nothing. NOTHING. Apparently, even blinking is too strenuous an activity for me. This does not bode well for a busy mom/nurse/blogger/protest warrior/etc. I'm on a full week of bedrest....

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Carson, California
Although I don't remember it, I must have stayed up late when I was a young kid in the 1960s. I used to make drawings of TV sets on which the following words displayed on the screen:


I didn't see this January 19, 2005 CNN article, but it would have led the readers to believe that there WOULD be "more to come":

CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman has a secret joke writer -- and it's none other than the retired king of all late-night television, Johnny Carson.

CBS senior vice president Peter Lassally, a onetime producer for both men, said Tuesday that the 79-year-old former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" occasionally sends Letterman new jokes he has written and that Letterman sometimes incorporates them into his nightly "Late Show" monologue....

"I think the thing he misses the most is the monologue," Lassally said of his former boss. "He reads the newspaper every day and might think up five good jokes that he wishes he had an outlet for. Once in a while he sends jokes to Letterman and Letterman will use his jokes in the ('Late Show') monologue and he gets a big kick out of that."...

Carson, who has lived in relative seclusion in Malibu, California, for the past decade, has battled emphysema in recent years, but is "still interested in literature and politics and all the worldly things that he was always interested in," Lassally said.

This work for Letterman was done in secret. Sometimes, however, he'd work in public:

Readers opening the pages of the New Yorker last Oct. 30 [2000] found an unexpected tidbit in the midst of the usual Talk of the Town items -- a small humor piece entitled "Proverbs According to Dennis Miller ." Among the short parodies of Miller's reference-heavy style: "A bird in the hand ... is dead or alive, depending on one's will," and "What goes up ... will stay up if it has an escape velocity of 11.3 kilometres per second." The byline was Johnny Carson....

[H]ere was Johnny, right there on the page, spoofing the pseudo-intellectual Miller's new gig as NFL announcer. According to the New York Times, Carson submitted the piece to the editors on the suggestion of humorist Steve Martin, and they printed it. And then, as if to dispel the sophomore slump, he published another two months later, a recently discovered collection of children's letters to Santa, as if written by Bill Buckley, Chuck Heston and Don Rickles.

The doctors have weighed in, effectively calling Johnny Carson's death a suicide:

Johnny Carson, late-night talk show host for 30 years, died from emphysema, a common lung disease.

Carson was diagnosed with emphysema in 2002.

What is emphysema, can it be prevented, and how can it be treated? WebMD turned to The Cleveland Clinic and the American Lung Association for answers....

Emphysema is irreversible destruction of the walls of the air sacs located at the end of the bronchial tubes. The damaged air sacs, called alveoli, are not able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the blood. As a result a person develops progressive symptoms of the disease including shortness of breath, cough, and limited ability to exert him- or herself.

The lung tissue loses its elasticity and collapses when the person exhales, trapping air in the lungs. The trapped air keeps fresh air and oxygen from entering the lungs....

Cigarette smoking causes approximately 80% to 90% of deaths due to emphysema. Air pollution and occupational dusts may also contribute to emphysema, especially when the person exposed to these substances is a cigarette smoker. A genetic abnormality called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can also cause emphysema.

Cigarette smoke causes emphysema by destroying the tiny air sacs in the lungs. Damage to these air sacs leads to holes in the lung tissue. It typically takes years of smoking before emphysema symptoms develop -- but once the damage is done, it can't be reversed....

Lung damage due to emphysema is irreversible. The single most important treatment is to stop smoking. Quitting smoking helps slow the progression of emphysema. Treatment also improves shortness of breath....

Rumors that Johnny moved to Burbank as a "thank you" to the people of Southern California are unfounded:

After suffering decades of neglect as an unincorporated part of Los Angeles
County, the citizens went to the polls on Tuesday, February 6, 1968 to vote on whether to officially incorporate their community as an independent city....

When the ballots were counted, the vote was 6,301 to 3,834 in favor of incorporation.

The City of Carson was born....

But there was one other issue for the voters to decide. What would be the name
of their new city? Voters were offered two choices: Carson and Dominguez, the two leading family names in the history of Rancho San Pedro. By a narrow vote of just 318 votes, the citizens chose the name Carson.

Carson actually grew up in the town of Norfolk, Nebraska:

Johnny Carson's hometown remembers the longtime "Tonight Show" host for his modesty and generosity more than for his reign as the king of late-night television.

Carson, who died Sunday at age 79, was a revered figure in Norfolk, where he lived from age 8 until he went into the Navy after high school graduation in 1943.

It's been almost a decade since Carson last visited Norfolk, but he never forgot his roots....

News of his death stunned Fred Egley, 88, who taught physical education at Norfolk High School when Carson was a freshman at the school in 1939.

Egley said he last heard from Carson in November, after he had sent him a newspaper article about whether the city's name should be pronounced "Nor-folk" or "Nor-fork."

"I assumed he was in good health because he sent a note back thanking me for sending him the clipping," Egley said. "So this is quite a shock."

Egley said Carson was fast to respond financially when a worthy cause arose. Three years ago, after the town's Senior Center failed to raise $250,000 for a new roof, Carson got word of the shortfall and sent a check for $100,000....

In Norfolk, Carson's donations helped fund the Carson Regional Cancer Center, the school's Johnny Carson Theater, the Norfolk Public Library, the Norfolk Arts Center, the Elkhorn Valley Museum and Research Center and the Lifelong Learning Center at Northeast Community College....

In a 1982 NBC special titled, "Johnny Goes Home," that documented a return trip to Norfolk, Carson described growing up in the town as "an era that gave you a direction in your life.

"Everyone gets a little homesick especially if you have fond memories of your early years, and I do."

Carson grew up in a modest, two-story off-white home on a busy thoroughfare just west of downtown Norfolk. The house was bought in 2003 by two South Dakota businessmen, who hoped to restore it and sale it at a profit. The house was restored, but has not sold, and was recently rented.

When Carson closed his office in California in 2001, he donated some of his personal items for display at the museum, including his Emmy awards and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sheryl Schmeckpeper, president of the Elkhorn Valley Historical Society, which oversees the museum and research center, said the museum likely will stay open late one day this to week for the public to stop by and remember Carson. She also said the city is planning to organize a memorial service....

The last time anyone knows for sure Carson stepped foot in Norfolk was about nine years ago, when he surprised his former penmanship teacher, Fay Gordon, at her 100th birthday party....

One more note - although the Dan Quayle Museum web page didn't have a tribute, Joan Rivers' web page did:

The man who kept America up at night for 30 years with laughter and launched dozens of famous comedic careers—including our own Joan's—has died at the age of 79.

Aspiring comedians knew that being motioned over to the guest couch by Carson after performing their stand-up routine could instantly transform them from virtual unknowns to stars. Joan remembers Johnny Carson as the man she credits for her career.

"You never forget when you've been working as a waitress and an office temporary and you've been working strip joints at night, and then Carson says to you, 'You're going to be a star' on the air, and it happens...He was truly the best straight man ever. He fed you lines ... like nobody else ever did before or since."

"This is the end of an era," Joan told Reuters. "With Carson you went on once. You had his blessing, and the world knew you were funny."...

Aside from Joan, virtually every comic in the business today from Leno, Letterman, and Brenner to Rickles, Romano, and Seinfeld owe a great debt to Johnny Carson....

Obviously Letterman commented, as did others:

"It's a sad day for his family and his country. All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again. He gave me a shot on his show and in doing so, he gave me a career. A night doesn't go by that I don't ask myself, 'What would Johnny have done?' He has been greatly missed since his retirement. Thank God for videotapes and DVDs. In this regard, he will always be around. He was the best, a star and a gentleman."
—CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman
"Being Johnny's friend was an honor. To hear of his sudden death, a great shock. He was so much more than just the 'King of Late Night,' he was a real intellect with broad interests; thankfully, many of which he was able to enjoy in the last decade. It is a terrible loss to his friends. I am deeply saddened."
—Actor-comedian Chevy Chase
"Johnny Carson was a man I considered like a brother to me. Our 34 years of working together, plus the 12 years since then, created a friendship which was professional, family like and one of respect and great admiration."
—Ed McMahon, Carson's former "Tonight" sidekick
"When you're working with wildlife, you have to be able to react very quickly. So the comedians that work with notes, or that have to think about how they respond find it difficult working with animals. But he was at his best when he was totally spontaneous ... He was one person that you knew when you walked out from behind that curtain, you could just toss those notes."
—Joan Embery, former goodwill ambassador for the Zoological Society of San Diego and frequent guest on "Tonight"

Even JayLeno, who usually does not display his feelings in public, made a statement:

Johnny Carson was "the gold standard."

That praise from Jay Leno, who succeeded Carson as host of "The Tonight Show."...

Leno said "no single individual has had as great an impact on television as Johnny."

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Ontario Canada Casino News
From the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal:

A provincial government decision that no new casinos will be developed has shaken Dryden Mayor Anne Krassilowsky.

“It comes as a surprise when indications from the feasibility study that Dryden and Wabigoon Lake First Nation undertook seemed to indicate that (a casino) would be an economic diversification opportunity for the two communities, providing more than 300 jobs,” Krassilowsky said Thursday.

“(It’s) one step forward and two steps back,” she said.

City council received a positive report this week on a casino/hotel development proposal.

Economic Development Minister Joe Cordiano announced Thursday “there will be no additional casinos” in Ontario.

Cordiano also said the province won’t allow video lottery terminals in bars and restaurants, nor will it allow slot machines in bingo halls.

The decision comes following a study of the market done by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. which suggests the province focus on making its current gaming facilities more competitive instead of creating new ones.

“The market assessment clearly points out that in order to maximize what we have, we shouldn’t cannibalize, so this is why we arrived at the decision that we made: no new facilities,” Cordiano said....

[T]he OLGC study states the government has to more effectively manage existing casinos and make them more competitive, especially because of tough competition from south of the border....

I'm sure that the present casino owners love this decision. Of course, a regulatory agency would never get in bed with the firms that it is supposed to regulate, would it?

The "south of the border" statement deserves some analysis, especially when you look at the following tidbit from Cordiano's biography:

Minister Cordiano graduated with distinction from the University of Toledo, Ohio with a Masters degree in Business Administration, specializing in Marketing after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto.

So the Minister himself came down here to get his MBA. This suggests that U.S. universities are providing "tough competition" for Canadian universities. Obviously, the only solution is to stop building Canadian universities and strengthening the ones that they already have.

Governments really have fun with free markets, don't they?

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Customize Into a Black Hole
Excerpts from a Chad Dickerson column:

Gary Barnett, research director at analyst company Ovum, writes in...noting the tendency of IT to overcustomize solutions for problems that might have simple commodity solutions.... “In the world of IT, it is almost impossible to find a standard, uncustomized and untinkered-with business application, in part because we’ve all convinced ourselves that our need is unique — that we’re NASCAR — when in truth most of the things we do with technology are closer to Stop & Shop than they are Daytona. One of the hardest but most important things that we all need to learn is when we want something plain, reliable, and cheap and when it makes sense for us to pimp things up.”

But there's still a ton of business looking to serve that oxymoron, COTS customization. Take Inserso, please:

Your organization is unique, with its own individual challenges and goals. Even so, there might be Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) products available that could be customized to meet your specific needs. In many cases, Inserso’s COTS customizations save clients money while providing a stable product – and without sacrificing functionality.

But if COTS customization isn't enough for you, go ahead and get Extreme Customization™ from WhatHelps:

Extreme Customization™ Instructions

Follow these steps to make your page(s) perfectly match your web site....

Step 1: Create a Customization Template. A customization template is a web page that has an empty column or table where you want page content (e.g. message board, chat room, classifieds, calendar) to display. The easiest way to create a Customization Template that matches your web site, is to (a) copy the HTML from an existing web page, and (b) remove the text/graphics from the main area of the page....

Step 2: Complete the form with your choice of font face/size and color settings. Your site's colors should be listed in the body tag near the top of your customization template....

Step 3: Click the link for HEAD. Copy/paste the code between head and /head on your customization template into the form....

Unfortunately, no one has come up with manic customization or uncontrollable customization yet. This would be for the companies that are more unique than any other company. If you want to advertise to these companies, then your brochure to them would be printed in a quantity of one...and the brochure would be created in a home-grown application...written in assembler code...using a chip of your own design.

If you think you're special and elite, Ian Angell is your guru (or at least he was back in October 2000 - he's probably passe now:

If Ian Angell is right about the future of the new economy, most of the world is screwed. From his vantage point as professor of information systems at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE), Angell, 53, spins a scenario of the future in which the world's business and technical elite use the Net to live wherever they want and to do whatever they please, without government intrusion. Leveraging their wealth and their much-in-demand professional skills, the chosen few (who really aren't so few) can live in countries that will bid to have them as residents -- through offers of tax relief and through promises of noninterference in their affairs.

What will governments get in return? The unprecedented wealth-creating power of this group of charmed individuals, whom Angell calls the "new barbarians." And what will become of the billions of people who are left behind? For some unfortunates, it will be a world of chaos, run by gangs of thugs. Others will live under the "tyranny of democracies" -- societies where people will have votes, but where the majority will be ruled by racial, religious, and ethnic bigots.

So much for teary-eyed talk about the "digital divide." Most of that earnest but shopworn discussion focuses on the powerlessness of the have-nots. So what about the haves? After all, they are the ones who will be in charge -- the agenda setters, the power brokers, and the virtual architects of the new digital order. What will their world look like? Angell has thought a lot about that question.

His answer reflects an unabashedly somber vision, sort of like Free Agent Nation on a global acid trip. Self-interest and security are the mantras of Angell's new barbarians. Commerce and communities are disembodied, existing for the most part on the Internet. Government's role is to shelter new barbarians from the scourge of disease, to protect the food supply, and to provide a clean, well-lighted place for data, the plasma of the new economy.

Who would want to live in such a world? Ian Angell, for one. His recent book, The New Barbarian Manifesto: How to Survive the Information Age (Kogan Page, 2000), conjures up a world that makes the brutal Darwinist ecology of Blade Runner seem downright benign. But Angell isn't offering remedies for rescuing society from such a fate. He believes that this dark world can't come soon enough.

"I'm an anarchic capitalist," says Angell. "I believe that business should be running the world. Every major technological shift creates winners and losers. Europe's a disaster because of a sentimental attachment to the welfare state, which is just a vestige of the Industrial Age, when politicians extracted taxes to buy votes."...

Companies such as A.T. Kearney, Cambridge Technology Partners Inc., USB Warburg, and Warner Lambert Co. have invited him to speak at their corporate gatherings, hoping that he'll shake things up with speeches about the changing nature of work, the end of democracy, and, of course, winners and losers. "When the consultants want to rattle their technologists, I get up and talk about how methods are dangerous and statistics are worthless, because they make for tidy minds," he says....

Bad science fiction? It would be, if there weren't a serious core to Angell's arguments: Who can really argue with the proposition that elite knowledge workers can dictate their demands to governments, as opposed to the other way around? At the end of his book, Angell offers a few pointers on how to become a new barbarian: Get an elitist education; keep your assets liquid, and spread them around the globe; familiarize yourself with economic hot spots that will be the most receptive to people like you. And finally, "Be ready to flee at a moment's notice."

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Let's Violate the Laws of Economics
Someone explain this to me. It's posted at a Burger King near Central and Philadelphia in Chino, California:


Only 25¢ per cup (includes refills)

No purchase necessary


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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Together, We Can Create Non-Inspiring Thought Control Messages
I was commenting on an Inland Empress post about a broken choo choo train, and ended up going off on the most bizarre tangent:

I think it's time for the two of you to revisit the secondary school anti-drug films with titles like "Don't Sniff Glue" and "Johnny Is A Glue-Head."

Taking off on a drug tangent, I need someone to tell me what "paper" is. I don't know if you ever listen to XTRA Sports 690 (but listen quick, it moves to a different frequency February 3rd), but they air this one anti-drug message from the Mexican government. The message, which is in English, goes something like this:

(guy with white bread voice) Got any PAPER?

(guy with stereotypical Chicano voice) Yeah, I got some good stuff. You'll be flying hiiiiigh!

(announcer) No you won't. It fries your brain and you end up in jail or you die. Kids won't learn the truth from the streets. You have to teach them.

Sorry for turning this heart-rending choo choo story into a commentary on Mexican government advertising. I'll (try to) behave in the future.

By the way, did the choo choo turn out OK?

Incidentally, this is just one of the Mexican government advertisements that the Mexican radio station XETRA airs. Even though they're from different government agencies, all of them use the same announcer, and all of them have the same tag line (something like "Together it can be done"). Apparently Mexico has a single Department of Broadcast Propaganda that creates these uniform messages.

Regarding the February 3 date I mentioned to the Inland Empress, here's what I know about it from the Daily Breeze:

The Lakers will have a new radio format for games starting Feb. 3, with XTRA moving down the dial from 690-AM and 1150-AM to 570-AM. XTRA's all-sports format will swap places with the Fabulous 570's music format.

Signonsandiego has more information:

The worst-kept secret in radio became official yesterday when Clear Channel Communications announced XTRA Sports 690/1150 will switch frequencies and become XTRA Sports 570, effective Feb. 3.

The on-air lineup will remain the same, including the three shows that have been a staple of XTRA since the summer of 1992 – Jim Rome, the Loose Cannons (Steve Hartman and Mychal Thompson) and Lee Hamilton. The only difference will be the spot on the AM dial and the fact the Lakers, not the Clippers, will be heard on the station (the Clippers will stay at 1150).

Don Martin, who was promoted from program director to station manager as part of yesterday's move, said the change will have no effect on the station's San Diego audience. He said XTRA's new signal "reaches deep into downtown San Diego" and the station "will do everything to prove we'll still serve San Diego."

Added Martin: "We are not running away (from San Diego). We are not leaving the market. It will not be any different than it was yesterday."

Martin said speculation that the switch would enable Rome's show also to be heard on San Diego's XPRS-AM (The Mighty 1090) was premature. He said Rome's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, is owned by Clear Channel, which would not allow the show to air on a competing station such as XPRS.

Pugh said his station still hoped to add Rome's three-hour show. "When Premiere tells us we're not going to have Jim is when it's done," Pugh said. "At this point, nobody has said no."

Hamilton, Hartman and Rome have long histories in the San Diego market. Hamilton started at XTRA in September 1987, Hartman in October 1990 and Rome in December 1990, although the latter's full-time show didn't begin until February 1992.

Although I don't know the Arbitron ratings for the three stations involved, my guess is that music standards provide better ratings than sports talk. Otherwise, why take sports talk off of a 50 kilowatt Mexican radio station, simulcasted on a Los Angeles radio station, and put it on a single 5 kilowatt station with reduced reception?

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George Martin
Whilst (heh) unsuccessfully searching for pictures of 1950 British family life to augment my Eric the Half a Bee post, I ran across the allmusic biography of George Martin. First, I'll share an excerpt regarding Martin's early musical training and 1950s studio experience:

George Martin was born in 1926 in London. Although his family wasn't especially musically oriented, Martin became interested in the piano before the age of eight, and taught himself a good deal about the instrument....

[After the war] Martin was in uniform for another year, at the end of which, after passing through a clerk's job, he entered the Guildhall School of Music, studying composition, conducting, orchestration, and theory, and taking up the oboe as a second principal instrument.

In the fall of 1950...Martin received the offer of a job as assistant to Oscar Preuss, the head of Parlophone Records. The Parlophone label in those days was part of the EMI organization, but it was a poor relation to such labels as Columbia (the British imprint, no relation to the American company of that name) and HMV Records....For the next six years, as Preuss' assistant, he learned about the recording process and how to manage it, and how to work effectively with artists ranging from solo pianists and dance bands to symphony orchestras....

The label eked out a profit working around the edges of low production budgets and emaciated promotional budgets, when compared to its rivals HMV and Columbia U.K.; it only seemed to have a leg-up on Regal Zonophone, the EMI imprint that, by the mid- to late '50s, had been given over entirely to Salvation Army Band recordings.

Martin joined the record industry just as it was going through a vast technological transition, from 78s to LPs and 45s — a process that EMI, owing to a certain ossified quality in its management, was slow to join — and to magnetic tape as a means of recording. He was quicker than many of his colleagues to grasp the importance of these innovations, especially magnetic tape, and what they could mean to the recording process. As early as 1955, he had recorded Peter Ustinov in a series of overdubbed recordings of his own voice and instruments, in a satirical piece called Mock Mozart....

In 1955, when Preuss retired, Martin was selected to succeed him as the head of Parlophone Records, at 29 the youngest label chief in the company's history. Within the constraints of his budgets, he was able to start putting his own mark on the label. Outbid for most of the top music talent in the country...he concentrated on non-musical performers and tapped into a small but profitable niche in comedy records. Ustinov was one of his successes, but his real star was Peter Sellers, then an up-and-coming comic performer and would-be actor. Sellers, who was then best known as a member of the Goons, a popular comedy team, became a mainstay of Parlophone's stable of acts during the second half of the 1950s. Martin also added to the company's roster the talents of the Temperence Seven, a trad-jazz/nostalgia outfit who ultimately gave the producer his first number one hit on the U.K. charts with "You're Driving Me Crazy" in 1961; future Broadway star Jim Dale; and Rolf Harris, the Australian singer.

During the early rock & roll boom of 1956-1958, Martin missed a chance to sign Tommy Steele, but did get the band that accompanied him, the Vipers Skiffle Group, led by Wally Whytton, who enjoyed a Top Ten hit with "Don't You Rock Me, Daddy-O" and cut numerous successful records (even getting a release of their work in the United States) between 1957 and 1961. He didn't see much in the way of youth-oriented acts, however, until the spring of 1962....

Why was George Martin so important?

[H]e chose to communicate with and understand his artists — those years of nurturing Parlophone's rather threadbare roster of performers served him in good stead, where other producers, even at EMI, retained much more formal and distant relations with their artists; he recognized their songwriting talent early, and only worked to polish the resulting records and move the abilities of John Lennon and Paul McCartney (and later George Harrison and Ringo Starr) in more commercial and productive directions. What's more, he never tried to make them sound like something they weren't. His colleague Walter J. Ridley, at HMV, would communicate with acts of his such as Johnny Kidd & the Pirates by memo, and hardly ever see them, and get the hard R&B-oriented group to record absurd pop songs such as "The Birds & the Bees"....Martin always had his performers sound like who they were, just optimizing the recording.

And he was sensitive to the band's concern that they play on their own records. It was common practice in those days, with studio time expensive and teenage audiences perceived as unconcerned who backed up the singer on a record, to bring in professional session players to play on recording sessions, and leave it to the band to handle concert work (Herman's Hermits was the extreme example of this).

Incidentally, Jimmy Page and John Baldwin (John Paul Jones) met in the English studios of the 1960s. Back to Martin:

Martin only did this once, on the Beatles' earliest sessions, calling in drummer Andy White, and only because he was unsure at the time about the abilities of new member Ringo Starr.

Most importantly, by working with the group, and not simply working on their recordings, as was the custom of many producers, Martin educated them and started an evolutionary process in their thinking and writing....The band as a whole, and Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison as composers, rose to the occasion, and soon they were writing more elaborate songs, and thinking in more sophisticated sounds, and writing music that allowed for more sophisticated embellishment.

So how did Parlophone reward him? They didn't, so he left.

Most onlookers, who saw Martin's name attached to the Beatles' albums up through Abbey Road, were not aware, however, that Martin had disassociated himself from Parlophone and EMI Records after 1965. Amazingly, given his success over the previous two years, Martin had seen no increase in his ridiculously small salary of 3,000 pounds (about 7,000 dollars) a year, which had been established when Parlophone was a small, modestly profitable part of the EMI group. Worse still, the corporate management had contrived, through some arcane interpretation of its rules, to deny him a Christmas bonus; and when it was time to renegotiate his contract, and he had wanted a small producer's royalty (a standard industry practice), they'd come up with a formula that could easily have ended up reducing his compensation. With Ron Richards, another EMI producer named John Burgess, and a former EMI producer named Peter Sullivan, Martin co-founded AIR (Associated Independent Recording), their own production company.

AIR could have been a record label as well — the collective experience of its four founders was more than most record companies have started with — but for the fact that it was under-capitalized. None of its founders had earned huge amounts of money, and while they could probably have attracted well-heeled backers (today, the venture would have been considered the musical equivalent of Dreamworks as a film studio, and drawn would-be investors and stock underwriters by the thousands), the decision was made to build the business gradually from the ground up....

The breakup of the Beatles freed Martin from the last vestige of his former relationship with EMI, and his career and the range of music that he worked with blossomed during the 1970s. He worked with acts ranging from America and Jimmy Webb to Jeff Beck and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His relationship with the Beatles after their breakup was limited — John Lennon and George Harrison used other producers as soon as the group was defunct, but Ringo Starr chose Martin to work on his album of '30s pop standards, Sentimental Journey, and Paul McCartney reunited with Martin to work on the soundtrack Live and Let Die from the James Bond movie....

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Throw the Music Hall Piano Down the Stairs
I've been waiting three months for this day. No, not the inauguration. No, not the "Not One Damn Dime" day. I've been waiting for the day when I can publicly reveal the song that has been going through my head every single working day for the last three months.

To catch you up, let me reproduce something that I wrote on October 26, 2004:

Self-Inflicted Torture

One of the systems that I access electronically requires that I change my password periodically. During the last password change, I based the new password on a particular song. Obviously I can't tell you the song or else you may be able to access the system. However, suffice it to say that the song is not a new song, and in fact sounds older than it actually is, with a music hall feel.

Problem: every time I access this system, I think of the song.

Problem: I access this system a lot.

Problem: that song is therefore going through my head for many of my waking hours.

Of course, I could change the password again, but it's troublesome to change passwords for this system. So I'll live with it until I'm forced to change...several months from now.


Well, today I *had* to change my password. Now that the security threat is over, I can now reveal the name of the song that has been going through my head the last three months:

Monty Python's Eric The Half a Bee.

Half a bee, philosophically,
Must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the bee has got to be
Vis a vis, its entity. D'you see?

But can a bee be said to be
Or not to be an entire bee
When half the bee is not a bee
Due to some ancient injury?


La dee dee, one two three,
Eric the half a bee.
A B C D E F G,
Eric the half a bee.

Is this wretched demi-bee,
Half-asleep upon my knee,
Some freak from a menagerie?
No! It's Eric the half a bee!

Fiddle de dum, Fiddle de dee,
Eric the half a bee.
Ho ho ho, tee hee hee,
Eric the half a bee.

I love this hive, employee-ee,
Bisected accidentally,
One summer afternoon by me,
I love him carnally.

He loves him carnally,
The end.

Cyril Connelly?
No; semi-carnally!

Cyril Connelly.

The lyrics are actually fairly witty (even if I thought they were singing about Sean Connery), and the tune isn't bad as tunes go, but as I previously noted, this song is in an old music hall standard style. Picture your aunts and uncles with British accents and 1950s short hair standing 'round the piano, singing. You get the idea.

Self-inflicted torture indeed.

And no, my current system password is NOT based upon the Brian Wilson song "Til I Die"....

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Why is Pittsburgh Thinking About Todd Marinovich?
There's a sudden upsurge of interest in Todd Marinovich - primarily because of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The following article from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle was written before the Pittsburgh - New York game, which Pittsburgh won:

(January 13, 2005) — The main reason to think the Pittsburgh Steelers can't go all the way this NFL season is the fact that no rookie quarterback ever has started in a Super Bowl, let alone won one.

When Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger takes his first snap Saturday against the New York Jets, he'll become only the eighth rookie quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to start a playoff game. His predecessors didn't fare well....

Todd Marinovich (1991 Los Angeles Raiders) — 12 of 23 for 140 yards with 0 TD passes and 4 INTs in a 10-6 loss to Kansas City....

Critics might argue that Roethlisberger has cooled off. In his first six starts this season, he threw only 3 INTs and was sacked only 7 times. In his last seven starts, he threw 8 INTs and was sacked 23 times. But a far more important number is his 13-0 record, and he has a chance to finish this season 16-0 if the Steelers win Super Bowl XXXIX.

The last quarterbacks to enjoy an undefeated season were Bob Griese and Earl Morrall with the 1972 Miami Dolphins (Griese broke his right leg five games into the season; Morrall started through the AFC Championship Game before Griese returned in that game and played all of Super Bowl VII).

One reason Roethlisberger was 13-0 is that Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher didn't ask him to do too much. Like the 1972 Dolphins, the Steelers focused on running the football. In fact, Miami ran much more than the current Steelers do. Roethlisberger throws less frequently than most other current NFL quarterbacks but much more often than Griese and Morrall did. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, he was much more effective passing this season than Griese and Morrall were in 1972....

After the game, the San Francisco Chronicle printed an article that focused on San Diego kicker Doug Brien (the previous week's hero for winning the game against San Diego, the current week's goat for losing the game against Pittsburth). Marinovich was mentioned again:

Rookie wins: Ben Roethlisberger was the seventh rookie to start a playoff game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and the third to win, joining Tampa Bay's Shaun King (1999) and the Rams' Pat Haden (1976) as winners. The other rookies to start a playoff game, all of whom lost, were the Raiders' Todd Marinovich (1991), the Rams' Jim Everett (1986), Cleveland's Bernie Kosar (1985) and Miami's Dan Marino (1983). Both King and Haden were beaten short of the Super Bowl, the goal that faces Roethlisberger next Sunday.

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More Ways to Misuse the Word Fascist
I've talked in the past about how certain people like to apply the term "fascist" to anyone with whom they don't agree, and I've also noted that the "Not One Damn Dime" people, who apparently want a complete pullout from Iraq, probably disagree with John Kerry's views on how the war should be prosecuted. In fact, I alleged that they would have no problem chanting "John Kerry is a fascist."

It turns out that there really ARE people who label Kerry as a fascist - which again proves how the term "fascist" is so often misused.

Let's start with the Car and Driver forums (huh?):

P: 8/25/2004 1:30:19 PM
Saab Turbo
Senior Member

Total Posts: 5,787
Last Post: 1/19/2005
Member Since: 8/15/2002

And who knew that Kerry was a fascist who wanted to intimidate TV stations and bookstores from running the [Swift Boat Veterans] advert and selling the book!

Let's look at Front Page Mag:

Date: 1/13/2003 1:40:24 PM
Name: Rightminded
Subject: Hey Pubis Hair!
Comment: It pales in comparison.

John Kerry is a Fascist piece of excrement, and is a major player in the party whose elected governor's are beginning to pardon murderers in the last weekend of their reign of tyranny.

But it's not only the right that is calling Kerry a Fascist. The far far left is also using the term (note that they also use the term "Amerika," but with only one K rather than three; "U.$." is also a nice touch):

John Kerry appears well on his way to taking the Democratic party nomination for Presidential candidate in the 2004 election race....There is little difference between Republicans and Democrats from the perspective of the majority of the world's people who suffer so that Amerikan imperialism can profit....

Often the progressive-sounding rhetoric from the Democrats is just window dressing on fascist politics. The Democrats are staunch promoters of imperialism....

For example, Kerry pledges to leave no "American" behind. What does this mean (and why does Kerry feel the need to co-opt the slogan of the feeble-minded, chauvinist POW/MIA movement)? Within U.$. borders there are many non-citizens who suffer in sweatshop jobs and lack even basic legal protections while providing needed labor for the benefit of Amerikan companies....

Since Kerry is very clear he doesn't want to tear down Amerikan imperialism and build a country that serves the interests of the majority of the world's people, these are really code words for expanding Amerikan militarism.

On foreign policy, some claim that the Democrats distinguish themselves from the Republicans. Kerry, after all, talks significant rhetoric about waging peace in Iraq and opposing Bush's unilateralism. But in the end Kerry just wants an imperialist policy that works more closely with other imperialist powers....

To his credit, for an imperialist candidate Kerry has less chauvinist rhetoric on immigration and jobs than some of his competitors for the Democratic nomination. He avoids complaining about job losses to other countries, and has cautious statements in his campaign about immigrants and immigration law. But in the end he still believes that Amerika is only to be enjoyed by Amerikans and calls for "adequately funding border enforcement to ensure that only legal immigrants can enter the country." MIM doesn't expect Democratic candidates for president to recognize the hypocrisy of an artificial militarized border that resulted from the theft of that land by Amerikans from its original inhabitants, the descendants of whom are now considered "illegal immigrants."...

One of Kerry's opponents, John Edwards, has made a trademark of his fascist rhetoric. Sometimes couched in progressive-sounding support for education or opposition to tax breaks for companies, he frequently speaks about the need to keep jobs in the United $tates for Amerikan workers....

With hugely disproportionate imprisonment rates of Blacks and Latinos, Amerikan prisons are one of the most fascist elements of Amerika. Kerry, like all good democrats, supports strengthening this Amerikan institution....

So, what is fascism? If you believe everything you read, fascism is defined as:

  • a policy of waging war against third world countries

  • the use of political pressure against media outlets

  • the pardoning of criminals

  • the detention of criminals

  • support for citizens of your home country

I hate to break it to all the name-callers, but fascism is actually an economic system that is not really related to the foreign policies of George W. Bush or John Kerry, though it can be argued that it is related to their economic policies:

When most people hear the word "fascism" they naturally think of its ugly racism and anti-Semitism as practiced by the totalitarian regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. But there was also an economic policy component of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," that was an essential ingredient of economic totalitarianism as practiced by Mussolini and Hitler. So- called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a "model" by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe. A version of economic fascism was in fact adopted in the United States in the 1930s and survives to this day. In the United States these policies were not called "fascism" but "planned capitalism." The word fascism may no longer be politically acceptable, but its synonym "industrial policy" is as popular as ever....

One of the most outspoken American fascists was economist Lawrence Dennis....The big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private rights."...

So-called "corporatism" as practiced by Mussolini and revered by so many intellectuals and policy makers had several key elements: The state comes before the individual. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized, autocratic government." This stands in stark contrast to the classical liberal idea that individuals have natural rights that pre-exist government; that government derives its "just powers" only through the consent of the governed; and that the principal function of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens, not to aggrandize the state.

Mussolini viewed these liberal ideas (in the European sense of the word "liberal") as the antithesis of fascism: "The Fascist conception of life," Mussolini wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual."

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: "The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature's plans." "If classical liberalism spells individualism," Mussolini continued, "Fascism spells government."...

Another keystone of Italian corporatism was the idea that the government's interventions in the economy should not be conducted on an ad hoc basis, but should be "coordinated" by some kind of central planning board. Government intervention in Italy was "too diverse, varied, contrasting. There has been disorganic . . . intervention, case by case, as the need arises," Mussolini complained in 1935. Fascism would correct this by directing the economy toward "certain fixed objectives" and would "introduce order in the economic field."...

These exact sentiments were expressed by Robert Reich (current U.S. Secretary of Labor) and Ira Magaziner (current federal government's health care reform "Czar") in their book Minding America's Business....Current industrial policy interventions, Reich and Magaziner bemoaned, are "the product of fragmented and uncoordinated decisions made by [many different] executive agencies, the Congress, and independent regulatory agencies . . . There is no integrated strategy to use these programs to improve the . . . U.S. economy."...

A third defining characteristic of economic fascism is that private property and business ownership are permitted, but are in reality controlled by government through a business-government "partnership." As Ayn Rand often noted, however, in such a partnership government is always the senior or dominating "partner."

In Mussolini's Italy, businesses were grouped by the government into legally recognized "syndicates" such as the "National Fascist Confederation of Commerce," the "National Fascist Confederation of Credit and Insurance," and so on. All of these "fascist confederations" were "coordinated" by a network of government planning agencies called "corporations," one for each industry. One large "National Council of Corporations" served as a national overseer of the individual "corporations" and had the power to "issue regulations of a compulsory character."

The purpose of this byzantine regulatory arrangement was so that the government could "secure collaboration . . . between the various categories of producers in each particular trade or branch of productive activity." Government-orchestrated "collaboration" was necessary because "the principle of private initiative" could only be useful "in the service of the national interest" as defined by government bureaucrats....

To call Bush or Kerry economic fascists is laughable. There is a difference between promoting policies that support business (e.g. Bush's and Kerry's support for guest worker programs and/or amnesty that serve to lower wages) and wanting to have the government exert complete control of business. Imagine Bush or Kerry calling Wal-Mart and telling them to raise their prices 1.3% in their California stores; it strains credibility to believe that either of them want to control business to that level.

Ralph Nader, on the other hand, might be a different story (emphasis mine):

Nader’s real problem is that his agenda is absolutely destructive. Ralph Nader is nothing more than a fascist totalitarian that seeks to create what would be one of the most repressive political regimes in history. That, not how many electoral votes he may take from Al Gore, is why this man is and has been a real threat to our freedom.

The Nader message goes as follows: Business corporations are creating products that harm all of us, they are polluting our air, water, and ground, and they deny us the true spiritual benefits of life. Those corporations are also buying politicians who blindly do the will of their evil masters bent upon enslaving all of us and doing us irreparable harm. The only way to stop them is to either regulate them into oblivious or seize their property outright. At the same time, the government must outlaw large numbers of products or use taxation and other restrictions to discourage people from purchasing them.

Take coffee, for example. While many of Nader’s supporters in places like Seattle like to discuss the Greatness of Their Candidate over coffee, Nader himself has said that coffee is a poison foisted upon us by vicious corporations. The only way to deal with coffee, in Nader’s view, is to outlaw it, and the same goes for cigarettes and alcoholic beverages....

Nader’s "greatest" achievement in his war against automobile firms has been his successful crusade to force manufacturers to install dangerous air bags. While air bags have saved some lives, other lives have been snuffed – especially those of small children – because the air bag itself explodes at a dangerous rate of speed....

Let us now look at a nation in which Nader were in control. (Assume Nader were elected president and was able to use dictatorial powers to achieve whatever he wanted.) First, and most important, the private automobile would be outlawed, leaving all of us either to walk or use crowded public transportation. Since trucks and other forms of transportation using internal combustion engines would also be outlawed, prices for goods (the few things Ralph would allow us to buy) would also be frightfully expensive.

It does not take a genius to realize that our worlds would be turned upside down. In order to keep us from clandestinely purchasing things like tobacco and coffee, Ralph would have to increase the vast police powers of the state....Mass starvation would follow within a relatively short time as crops would fail (fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides would be outlawed) and what was grown would not be able to be promptly harvested and delivered to markets....

For those who believe this assessment of a Nader presidency to be too harsh, remember just what our modern, industrial society has produced. The high standards of living that so many of us enjoy have not just happened. They are the results of a highly productive industrial economy that has come about because of institutions like private property and free markets, both of which Nader openly despises and would destroy if given the chance....

According to this 1998 article about South Korea, government control of business does not work:

Beginning in the 1970s, Korea's phenomenal economic growth was dubbed the "Korean miracle" and touted as a model for the developing world. It is clear now, however, that the miracle was largely an illusion.

Korea's accomplishments were built on massive levels of debt and central government control of business decisions. The Seoul government subsidized sprawling business groups, known as chaebols, and simultaneously protected them from foreign competition by shielding domestic markets from foreign investment and imports. Eventually, Korea's $500 billion economy became far too complex for economic bureaucrats to control effectively. Bad business decisions proliferated, and this led in turn to over capacity in core industries and inadequate demand in both domestic and international markets. For instance, while the United States has only three auto makers, Korea has five. Despite sagging sales in markets both at home and abroad, the previous Korean government defied sound business logic and approved the nation's fifth auto company just last year.

Last month, Hyundai Motor Company laid off 8,000 of its 30,000 autoworkers. Around 8,000 more are idle as a result of sharply declining production. Strains upon medium- and small-sized companies are even more serious. Since the economic crash began last November, company bankruptcies have exceeded 3,000 per month. Unemployment, which totaled about 400,000 this time last year, is approaching the 1.5 million level.

Korea's combined domestic and foreign currency debt is estimated to be as high as $730 billion--almost twice the size of its 1997 gross national product. This crushing financial burden brought the Korean economy to its knees late last year, and the previous Korean administration turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for aid. The result was a $57 billion IMF bailout package....

President Kim's December 18, 1997, election victory and February 25 inauguration were bittersweet events for the former opposition leader....For many years, he criticized the central government planning and massive debt-leveraged growth that wrecked the economy he now is struggling to revive. Once in office, he wasted no time in turning the Korean government's policies in the right direction.

Ending his nation's rock-solid protectionist stance, President Kim has called for fully opening Korea's stock and real estate markets and company equity ownership to foreigners.

I'm laughing at the idea of either Bush or Kerry preventing foreigners from buying stock in U.S. companies.

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