Saturday, April 30, 2005

HHGTTG: The Hollywood Abortion

"For Douglas"

That is how the 2005 remake of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ended. I sincerely doubt that Douglas Adams intended that snooze fest, totally devoid of the wit and humor of the books to be produced. It's much the same as the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies recently made. Good movies true, but the songs that helped shape the mood of the books was removed. Replaced with shtick.

This movie rushed through the storyline, glanced over the brilliance that made the books memorable, and then took off on what appeared to me to be a pointless tangent. I understand that this was a difficult undertaking. This movie was destined to fail, not just to a cynical prick like me, but also to everyone. It's a catch-22. If you've read the books or even seen the 1981 BBC Mini-series then you'd hate this movie for being what it should have been. And if you never read the books, then this movie would just be a jumble of gibberish.

All I can say is “uughick”.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Putin calls Soviet Union's breakup "the greatest political catastrophe of the last century".

MOSCOW - The collapse of the Soviet Union was "the greatest political catastrophe of the last century," Russian president Vladimir Putin said Monday as he delivered his annual state of the nation address.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address in Moscow.

The former KGB agent said the 1991 breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a "true drama" that left tens of millions of Russian people living outside Russia, in breakaway republics formerly under Soviet control.

"The epidemic of destruction extended even to Russia itself," he told the country's two houses of parliament, saying personal savings were wiped out and "old ideals" were destroyed.


Funny, I would have said the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 or the takeover of Germany by the National Socialists in 1933. The collapse od the USSR was a necessary step forward, all be it a painful one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Cage as Blaze

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Stone's Resignation Spells Turbulent Times at TSA

---Rear Adm. David Stone's imminent departure as head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) indicates to many aviation security experts that the three-year-old agency is already destined to become a far smaller, less important entity, while the nation's airport screeners will probably revert to private management. Some even think the agency's days are numbered.

"It's just a big, bloated, irresponsible bureaucracy that right now is coming apart at the seams," said Brian Sullivan, a retired special agent for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Given the financial pressures the federal government still faces, it "must be greatly tempting" to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff to work on streamlining the department in part by dismantling TSA, Colorado-based consultant David Forbes told Airport Security Report. (When Chertoff assumed the reins at DHS in March, he began a top-to-bottom review of the department's functioning and structure.)

Then again, TSA could still hang on in some form, such as in the old FAA role as overseer of security services, but not directly involved in running airports' screening operations, New York-based aviation attorney Charles Slepian said.

Dumping even more fuel on the fire, House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said late last week that two soon-to-be-released government reports from DHS and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have concluded that airport security has gotten no better since 9/11.

For still other observers, a change in leadership rekindles the hope that the much-maligned agency will finally get its act together. But even where there is still hope, there is also strong dismay over the "revolving door" that apparently leads into and out of the TSA secretary's office. Stone is already the third TSA administrator since the agency started functioning as a separate organ of the federal bureaucracy in February 2002.

"We need consistent and steady leadership from the individuals that shape our fragile flight environment," said Phil Boyer, president of the general aviation group, the Airline Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Following Tom Ridge's departure as DHS head last fall, several top jobs in the department still remain open, AOPA also noted.

To Leonard Wood, chairperson of the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) Safety and Security Committee, the revolving-door phenomenon at TSA indicates that its administrators quickly tire of getting no chance to settle into their jobs before they are summoned to the witness table on Capitol Hill to get verbally beaten up. It seems that TSA simply cannot go fast enough on any initiative to satisfy national legislators, Wood told Airport Security Report. Congress either needs to give TSA's leadership some more slack or give the agency some direction, which has been almost totally lacking.

News of Stone's resignation first appeared in The Washington Post early on April 8. Later in the day, TSA affirmed the news in only 33 words, "Admiral Stone has informed Secretary Chertoff of his intention to step down from TSA and has agreed to the Department's request to remain until June to assist with the transition of a successor." A TSA spokeswoman told Airport Security Report that the agency had nothing more to say.

Internal TSA emails from that same April 8 date, and obtained by Airport Security Report, indicate that both Stone and DHS Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson felt an immediate need to buck up the troops. "Anybody who begins to believe in the smallest way that TSA is not an integral, vital, and absolutely phenomenal part of this Department of Homeland Security ought to go take a hike because they do not know what they're talking about," Jackson wrote.

Stone's message to his headquarters staff said that "change is the sign of a healthy, innovative and creative organization," and it was "in that spirit of change" he gave Chertoff his resignation. (The Post story also said that President Bush asked Stone to leave.)

However the resignation came about, it now seems inevitable to most that the nation's airport screening checkpoints will again be privately managed.

Sullivan compared this scenario to the movie title, "Back to the Future." Congressional Republicans never much cared for expanding the federal bureaucracy by creating TSA, but the post-9/11 mood in Washington and across the nation forced their hand. Now, those same policymakers will be very content to let airport screening slide back under private management, Sullivan told Airport Security Report. At the same time, they are also insisting that things will be different this time.

Moreover, most observers believe that the great opportunity following 9/11 to improve airport security has been squandered. The once-promised model of an efficient, never-before-seen type of federal agency never materialized. Because much of FAA's staff moved over to TSA, the new agency also inherited most of the former's bureaucratic inefficiencies. Key posts were filled by people without any relevant expertise. And the agency seemed to place far less value on improved security than on keeping secrets and avoiding embarrassing any particular members of the federal workforce.

But part of the fault for this "missed opportunity" lies with the public, Sullivan said. The more time that has passed since 9/11, the less significance that airport security has for air travelers, whose collective attention span "is like a child's." Not only have air travelers become immune to the issue of airport security, but they seem increasingly irritated with hearing about it. Convenience, once again, is the paramount issue.

Slepian told Airport Security Report that all the major players in Washington -- Republicans, Democrats and the White House -- knew all along that TSA's heyday would be short. That explains why, through all of agency's blunders over the last three years, Congress did nothing and the White House said nothing.

Regardless of TSA's exact fate, most observers also feel that federal funding for airport security is likely to decrease. With the amount of waste, along with the lack of accountability, and the growing consensus that airport security across the country has gotten no better, more money is likely to start getting funneled to other modes of transportation, Sullivan said.

Another point to consider is that most of the capital spending for airport security from Washington has already been committed, Slepian explained. There are not a lot of recurrent expenditures.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Moussaoui Pleads Guilty in 9/11 Conspiracy

Fri Apr 22, 7:31 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring with the Sept. 11 attackers and declared he was chosen by Osama bin Laden to fly an airliner into the White House in a separate assault.

Over the objection of his lawyers, Moussaoui calmly admitted his guilt in a courtroom a few miles from where one of the hijacked planes crashed into the Pentagon in 2001, setting up a showdown with prosecutors who quickly reaffirmed they will seek Moussaoui's execution.

"I will fight every inch against the death penalty," Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema as he became the only person convicted in a U.S. court in connection with the Sept. 11 plot that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The unshackled Moussaoui, wearing a beard and green prison jumpsuit, told the judge he had not been promised a lighter sentence for his guilty pleas. Then he added, "I don't expect any leniency from the Americans."


No quarter asked, none given.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

No lo contendre

Rush guitarist, son enter pleas to reduced charges
April 21, 2005

The lead guitarist for the rock group Rush and his son accepted plea agreements on Thursday morning in which they will serve no jail time on charges related to a New Year's Eve 2003 altercation with Collier County Sheriff's deputies.

Alex Zivojinovich, known on stage as Alex Lifeson, and his son Justin, will serve 12 months probation and pay court costs as part of the agreement.

The state made the offer a day after a judge reduced the third-degree felony charge that Justin was facing down to a misdemeanor charge. The felony could have resulted in him serving five years in prison.

The agreement calls for Alex and Justin to plead no contest to a single misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence. Adjudication is being withheld, meaning there will not be a formal conviction on their records if probation is successfully completed.

Zivojinovich and his son were at the bash at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples hotel ringing in New Year's Eve 2004 when the altercation with deputies occurred.

Justin and his friends agitated hotel security when they got up on the platform where the house band was taking a break. Security called deputies, who ended up escorting Justin out of the hotel. A deputy testified that he felt threatened as he was escorting Justin out of the hotel when Justin broke one of his arms free from a grip deputies had behind his back.

Senior Circuit Judge Charles T. Carlton ruled Wednesday that this act was not enough for the third-degree resisting arrest with "violence" charge to stand. Prosecutors said the case against Alex involved many of the same witnesses, which is why they decided to offer the plea.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Private Screeners Do a Better Job than TSA Screeners

Wed Apr 20, 12:46 AM

WASHINGTON - A congressional investigation found airport screeners employed by private companies do a better job detecting dangerous objects than government screeners, according to a House member who has seen the classified report.

The Government Accountability Office found statistically significant evidence that passenger screeners, who work at five airports under a pilot program, perform better than their federal counterparts at some 450 airports, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. and chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, said on Tuesday.

"You get a statistically significant improvement if you go to federal supervision with private screening companies," Mica said.

In a separate report issued Tuesday, the inspector general for the Homeland Security Department faulted the Transportation Security Administration for allowing lavish spending on a $19 million crisis management center, including about $500,000 to acquire artwork, silk plants and other decorative and miscellaneous items.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Congress ordered every commercial airport but five to switch from privately employed screeners to a government work force.

The five exceptions - in San Francisco; Tupelo, Miss.; Rochester, N.Y.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. - all have private workers supervised by Transportation Security Administration officials.

Mica wants to see that system at all U.S. airports.

Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, a senior Democrat on the aviation subcommittee, opposes private screeners.

DeFazio, who has seen the classified GAO report, said the difference between the private and government screeners was statistically significant but still slight.


Ah, the nail in the coffin. As I think about it though, I do perfer the federal screeners over the private, simply because they look more professional, and generally speak better english than the old contracted ones. But the TSA screeners are too costly and inefficient.

On a side note, I have to replace the tires on my car today. That makes twice in two weeks i've had to replace the tires on one of my cars. It sucks, it's an unexpected expense.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Lockheed Martin & TSA

Industry team forms to provide private screening at airports

By Chris Strohm

A major industry team has formed to provide private passenger and baggage screening services at the nation's airports.

Lockheed Martin and Covenant Aviation Security will seek contracts from the Transportation Security Administration to take over screening operations at airports. The companies said TSA plans to begin awarding contacts in May.

"The Lockheed Martin-Covenant team will bring experience-based innovation to security screening privatization and provide world-class training, human resources management, checkpoint traffic control and customer service through our partnerships with the TSA, airport management and the flying public," said John Freeh, president of Lockheed Martin Systems Management, in a statement.

Lockheed Martin has been under contract with TSA to conduct part of the agency's annual screener recertification program. Covenant has been under contract to provide private screening services at two airports.


All the pieces are falling into place.

TSA Inspector beaten by Mexican Police


Larry C. Johnson

There is a terrorist threat in Mexico against Americans only it is from Mexican police. Two weeks ago (March 4th) a senior US Government official with the Transportation Security Administration was brutally attacked. This official, who is in charge of surveying and assessing Mexican airports to ensure that they meet the U.S. Government security requirements, left his hotel room in Tijuana, Mexico on Friday evening and crossed the street to buy his daughter a gift. While returning from the gift shop he was accosted by two Mexican police officers. They pulled the U.S. Federal agent into an alley and beat him while demanding $1,000.

The U.S. official told the thugs that his wallet with his ATM card was in the hotel. The aspiring theives accompanied the the Federal agent into the hotel. The U.S. official hollered to the hotel security personnel for help but was ignored. The Mexican police forced him outside the hotel and continued beating him. He was then put into a Mexican police vehicle, taken to the Tijuana jail, and put into a holding cell with 50 other unfortunate souls. He continued to tell the police that he was a U.S. Federal Law Enforcement officer with the Transportation Security Administration.

Somehow the news got back to the US Embassy and the Embassy's Regional Security Officer (RSO) arrived in the morning to free him. The Federal Agent was put into a vehicle, accompanied by armed convoy, and escorted back to the safety of the United States.

Beside the emotional trauma inflicted on him by greedy, corrupt Mexican police officers, the U.S. agent suffered serious nerve damage to his hands. To make matters worse he faces possible retaliation from his own Government. Instead of lodging a forceful protest with the Mexican Government, the U.S. State Department is trying to keep the matter quiet. TSA, rather than stand up for its people, is blaming the Agent who was so viciously attacked for causing the incident "because he left his hotel room after dinner". The last time I checked there is no U.S. Government policy requiring U.S. officials on TDY to remain as hostages in their room, particularly in Mexico. TSA needs to send a clear message to the Mexicans--if you attack our people then your planes won't land in the United States.

During the ride back to the United States the RSO told the agent that as many as 80 Americans a year are being mugged in this same way. Most pay up and go on their way. Some wind up beaten and in jail. And the answer from the White House and the State Department? Deafening silence. Where is the public warning from Consular Affairs?

If the men and women charged with inspecting the Mexican airports to ensure they are meeting U.S. security standards cannot do their job without the threat of being mugged and robbed, how can we be sure that the Government of Mexico is fully cooperating with us to prevent terrorists from coming into the United States.

What more can I say other than, Filthy Fucking Animals! I don't understand why we even have dealings with these barbarians.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Natalie Portman

Friday, April 15, 2005

I Gotta Fever...and the only more

Monday, April 11, 2005

Busted Tees

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Necrophilia among ducks ruffles research feathers

Donald MacLeod
Tuesday March 8, 2005

The strange case of the homosexual necrophiliac duck pushed out the boundaries of knowledge in a rather improbable way when it was recorded by Dutch researcher Kees Moeliker.

It may have ruffled a few feathers, but it earned him the coveted Ig Nobel prize for biology awarded for improbable research, and next week he will be recounting his findings to UK audiences on the Ig Nobel tour.

Ducks behave pretty badly, it seems. It is not so much that up to one in 10 of mallard couples are homosexual - no one would raise an eyebrow in the liberal Netherlands - but they regularly indulge in "attempted rape flights" when they pursue other ducks with a view to forcible mating. "Rape is a normal reproductive strategy in mallards," explains Mr Moeliker.

As he recounts in his seminal paper, The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard anas platyrhynchos, he was in his office in the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, when he was alerted by a bang to the fact a bird had crashed into the glass facade of the building. "I went downstairs immediately to see if the window was damaged, and saw a drake mallard (anas platyrhynchos) lying motionless on its belly in the sand, two metres outside the facade. The unfortunate duck apparently had hit the building in full flight at a height of about three metres from the ground. Next to the obviously dead duck, another male mallard (in full adult plumage without any visible traces of moult) was present. He forcibly picked into the back, the base of the bill and mostly into the back of the head of the dead mallard for about two minutes, then mounted the corpse and started to copulate, with great force, almost continuously picking the side of the head.

"Rather startled, I watched this scene from close quarters behind the window until 19.10 hours during which time (75 minutes) I made some photographs and the mallard almost continuously copulated his dead congener. He dismounted only twice, stayed near the dead duck and picked the neck and the side of the head before mounting again. The first break (at 18.29 hours) lasted three minutes and the second break (at 18.45 hours) lasted less than a minute. At 19.12 hours, I disturbed this cruel scene. The necrophilic mallard only reluctantly left his 'mate': when I had approached him to about five metres, he did not fly away but simply walked off a few metres, weakly uttering a series of two-note 'raeb-raeb' calls (the 'conversation-call' of Lorentz 1953). I secured the dead duck and left the museum at 19.25 hours. The mallard was still present at the site, calling 'raeb-raeb' and apparently looking for his victim (who, by then, was in the freezer)."

Mr Moeliker suggests the pair were engaged in a rape flight attempt. "When one died the other one just went for it and didn't get any negative feedback - well, didn't get any feedback," he said.

His findings have provoked a lot of interest - especially in Britain for some reason - but no other recorded cases of duck necrophilia. However, Mr Moeliker was informed of an American case involving a squirrel and a dead partner, although in this case it is not known whether the necrophilia observed was homosexual or not as the victim had been run over by a truck shortly before the incident.

Article here

Saturday, April 09, 2005

TSA slated for dismantling

White House asks agency's director to step down

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Updated: 11:32 p.m. ET April 7, 2005

The Transportation Security Administration, once the flagship agency in the nation's $20 billion effort to protect air travelers, is now slated for dismantling.

The latest sign came yesterday when the Bush administration asked David M. Stone, the TSA's director, to step down in June, according to aviation and government sources. Stone is the third top administrator to leave the three-year-old agency, which was swiftly created in the chaos and patriotism following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The TSA absorbed divisions of other agencies such as Federal Aviation Administration only to find itself now the victim of a massive reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA has been plagued by operational missteps, public relations blunders and criticism of its performance from both the public and legislators. Its "No Fly" list has mistakenly snared senators. Its security screeners have been arrested for stealing from luggage, and its passenger pat-downs have set off an outcry from women.


I'm glad to see that Washington has come to the realization that the grand experiment of TSA is a failure. Bush never wanted this program, TSA was created out of a compromise with leading Republicans and Democrats who wanted to set up a dog and pony show that would reassure to public that Civil Aviation was safe again.

Once TSA had been made a reality, the original plan under McGaw called for strong federal oversight, with the TSA having near absolute authority at the nation's airports. But industry lobbyist influences the agency's direction and policies, just as they had with the FAA. The TSA was set up for failure.

With Bush's popularity stagnant, I think he'll move to dismantle a costly and inefficient agency that he never wanted in the first place. Granted he's a lame duck president, but he wants his administration to end on a high note, to set up his party for what will be a bitter 2008 election campaign.

What does it say of an agency that gives it's Public Relations a larger budget than Compliance?

The question is, where does this leave my division and me?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Huddla Huddla

Is a former haberdasher turned prostitute now a hat trick?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sin City

Thank you Robert Rodriguez for making a comic movie that's true to the comic!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pope John Paul II's body lay in state at the Vatican

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Te Rauparaha Haka

Ringa pakia
Uma tiraha
Turi whatia
Hope whai ake
Waewae takahia kia kino

English Translation:
Slap the hands against the thighs
Puff out the chest
Bend the knees
Let the hip follow
Stamp the feet as hard as you can.

Ka Mate! Ka Mate!
Ka Ora! Ka Ora!
Tenei te ta ngata puhuru huru
Nana nei i tiki mai

Whakawhiti te ra
A upane ka upane!
A upane kaupane whiti te ra!

English Translation:
It is death! It is death!
It is life! It is life!
This is the hairy person
Who caused the sun to shine
Keep abreast! Keep abreast
The rank! Hold fast!
Into the sun that shines!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Is time growing short?

Prophecy of St Malachy

With Pope John Paul II nearing death, I'm forced to ponder the future of the church and the world.