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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Quote of the day

[T]here are several recognizable types of humorous activity. There is parody, when you make fun of people who are smarter than you; satire, when you make fun of people who are richer than you; and burlesque, when you make fun of both while taking your clothes off.
-P.J. O'Rourke

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Bones

DeForest Kelley, who played the curmudgeonly Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the original Star Trek series, was born on this day in 1920 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the first member of the original Star Trek cast to pass away, on June 11, 1999, at the age of 79.

Initially approached for the role of the Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock, Kelley was instead cast as the ship's chief medical officer, described by series creator Gene Roddenberry as "a future-day H.L. Mencken". An unabashed cynic of technology, the McCoy character was a self-described old fashioned country doctor who put more faith in humanity than high technology.

In a 1982 interview with author Allan Asherman, Kelley said McCoy represented "the perspective of the audience, that if you were along on the voyage you'd think, 'These people are crazy! How in the hell do they expect to do that?'" Indeed, the McCoy character was often used to interject a dose of reality, interpret the techno-babble, and explain the frequently convoluted plotting of the more arcane Trek adventures to those in the audience struggling to follow the science fiction storylines.

His summary of the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, delivered in exasperated disbelief to the gung-ho Captain Kirk, still stands as one of the best examples of exposition in screen history:

"You're proposing that we go backwards in time, find humpbacked whales, then bring them forward in time, drop 'em off, and hope to hell they tell this probe what to go do with itself?!" The entire plot in fewer than 35 words. That's Bones for you.

The son of a Baptist minister, Jackson DeForest Kelley wanted to be a doctor like an uncle he greatly admired, but his family couldn't afford to send him to medical school. He instead became a character actor who worked steadily in film and television from the late 1940s through the 1960s. Star Trek's popularity in syndication essentially ended his acting career, but he considered himself fortunate to be associated with a role that made him a permanent icon in popular culture, and he made a comfortable living by reprising his character for the motion picture series and appearing on the convention circuit.

Asherman's interview ended with a quote that could serve as an accurate and fitting epitaph:

"I'd wanted to be a physician and couldn't- and yet became the most well-known doctor in the galaxy."

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

And when do they start tracking down political opponents?

Feds after Google data
RECORDS SOUGHT IN U.S. QUEST TO REVIVE PORN LAW
By Howard Mintz
Mercury News

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.

The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content accessible to minors. The government contends it needs the Google data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.

The Mountain View-based search and advertising giant opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.

Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government's effort "vigorously."

"Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching," Wong said.

The case worries privacy advocates, given the vast amount of information Google and other search engines know about their users.

"This is exactly the kind of case that privacy advocates have long feared," said Ray Everett-Church, a South Bay privacy consultant. "The idea that these massive databases are being thrown open to anyone with a court document is the worst-case scenario. If they lose this fight, consumers will think twice about letting Google deep into their lives."

Everett-Church, who has consulted with Internet companies facing subpoenas, said Google could argue that releasing the information causes undue harm to its users' privacy.

"The government can't even claim that it's for national security," Everett-Church said. "They're just using it to get the search engines to do their research for them in a way that compromises the civil liberties of other people."

The government argues that it needs the information as it prepares to once again defend the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act in a federal court in Pennsylvania. The law was struck down in 2004 because it was too broad and could prevent adults from accessing legal porn sites.

However, the Supreme Court invited the government to either come up with a less drastic version of the law or go to trial to prove that the statute does not violate the First Amendment and is the only viable way to combat child porn.

As a result, government lawyers said in court papers they are developing a defense of the 1998 law based on the argument that it is far more effective than software filters in protecting children from porn. To back that claim, the government has subpoenaed search engines to develop a factual record of how often Web users encounter online porn and how Web searches turn up material they say is "harmful to minors."

The government indicated that other, unspecified search engines have agreed to release the information, but not Google.

"The production of those materials would be of significant assistance to the government's preparation of its defense of the constitutionality of this important statute," government lawyers wrote, noting that Google is the largest search engine.

Google has the largest share of U.S. Web searches with 46 percent, according to November 2005 figures from Nielsen//NetRatings. Yahoo is second with 23 percent, and MSN third with 11 percent.

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Quotes of the day

From today's birthday boys and girls:

All the things I really like to do are either illegal, immoral, or fattening.
-Alexander Woollcott

Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got.
-Janis Joplin

If I see something sagging, dragging or bagging, I get it sucked, tucked or plucked... It takes a lot of money to look as cheap as I look.
-Dolly Parton

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Surprisingly relevant quote of the day

I shut down my Tablet PC most evenings and start it up from a fresh boot. Why do I do that? Because I've been using computers for 20 years and have learned that's the best way to work.
--Robert Scoble, Microsoft Evangelist, The Register, 4 February 2005, on one way to deal with his company's unstable operating systems.

Scoble will be at this evening's Pittsburgh Blogfest 5 at Finnegan's Wake and will participate in a panel tomorrow sponsored by the Pittsburgh Technology Council on how to use blogs and podcasting to more efficiently exploit the consumer masses.

Just kidding.

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The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle

Today's the 93rd anniversary of the birth of Danny Kaye. Audio here.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

That insensitive plantation comment

"I clearly fascinate them," Gingrich said of the Democrats. "I'm much more intense, much more persistent, much more willing to take risks to get it done. Since they think it is their job to run the plantation, it shocks them that I'm actually willing to lead the slave rebellion." [Washington Post, 10/20/94]

Oh. To which plantation comment were you referring?

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You can't get your kid's name off the Pentagon's potential cannon fodder list...

(From the Vermont Guardian)

Parents cannot remove their children's names from a Pentagon database that includes highly personal information used to attract military recruits, the Vermont Guardian has learned.

The Pentagon has spent more than $70.5 million on market research, national advertising, website development, and management of the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) database- a storehouse of questionable legality that includes the names and personal details of more than 30 million U.S. children and young people between the ages of 16 and 23.

The database is separate from information collected from schools that receive federal education money. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to report the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary school students to recruiters, but the law also specifies that parents or guardians may write a letter to the school asking that their children's names not be released.

However, many parents have reported being surprised that their children are contacted anyway, according to a San Francisco-based coalition called Leave My Child Alone (LMCA).

"We hear from a lot of parents who have often felt quite isolated about it all and haven't been aware that this is happening all over the country," said the group's spokeswoman, Felicity Crush.

Parents must contact the Pentagon directly to ask that their children's information not be released to recruiters, but the data is not removed from the JAMRS database, according to Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Instead, the information is moved to a suppression file, where it is continuously updated with new data from private and government sources and still made available to recruiters, Krenke said. It's necessary to keep the information in the suppression file so the Pentagon can make sure it's not being released, she said.

Krenke said the database is compiled using information from state motor vehicles departments, the Selective Service, and data-mining firms that collect and organize information from private companies.

In addition to names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and phone numbers, the database may include cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity, and subjects of interest.

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An insult to the true patriots

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

Full text here.

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AU gets CA school to drop ID

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today announced that it has settled a lawsuit over a California school district's decision to teach a course promoting creationism.

Americans United, with assistance from the law firm Arnold & Porter LLP, filed suit against the El Tejon Unified School District last week, seeking to end a course called "Philosophy of Design" that promoted creationist ideas, including "intelligent design." The course, taught at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec by special education teacher and soccer coach Sharon Lemburg, relied heavily on videos produced by fundamentalist Christian groups that espouse creationism.

Under the terms of the settlement, the course will terminate one week early. The district's board of trustees has also agreed to language stating, "No school over which the School District has authority, including the High School, shall offer, presently or in the future, the course entitled 'Philosophy of Design' or 'Philosophy of Intelligent Design' or any other course that promotes or endorses creationism, creation science, or intelligent design."

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Quote of the day

A man compounded of law and gospel is able to cheat a whole country with his religion and then destroy them under color of law.
-Benjamin Franklin

Today is the 300th anniversary of Franklin's birth. The first and best example of what an American should be, a convincing argument can be made that there would be no United States of America if it weren't for his staggering contributions, most of which still have a profound influence on our everyday life. If he were alive today- well, it's beyond comprehension. Franklin has no peer.

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Quote of the day

Did I see Brokeback Mountain? No. I don't like westerns.
-Mike Barnicle

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So much for honoring our national traditions...

Marines Leave Behind Naval Academy Watch
Combat Troop Shortage Ends Tradition

By Elizabeth Williamson and Ray Rivera
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 14, 2006; B04

In a ceremony that began with a prayer and ended with tears, the U.S. Naval Academy sent its Marine sentries off to war yesterday, ending a 155-year tradition at the school because of the demand for combat troops.

"Pray for them, for many of them are going into harm's way, " a chaplain said in an invocation as the four dozen Marines, scarcely older than the midshipmen they guard, stood in quiet formation behind him.

Since before the Civil War, Marine sentries have provided security for dignitaries' visits and special events on the Annapolis campus. They also performed largely ceremonial duties, including standing guard outside John Paul Jones's crypt and the academy's museum.

The sentries were most visible, however, at the academy's gates, where "they maintained day-to-day vigilance... but they've done much more, in their ability to look tough but remain pleasant," said Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the Naval Academy superintendent.

Turning to the Marines lined up behind him in the academy's Bancroft Hall in Annapolis, Rempt said: "You've become a part of us. God bless, fair winds and following seas."

The Marines are being replaced by Navy enlisted personnel.

Dozens of military installations across the nation have turned to civilian security officers in recent years, and the Navy is leaving that option open for the academy. The Army's U.S. Military Academy at West Point and post at Fort Meade brought on private security firms in 2004.

The sentries' departure reflects the strain on U.S. forces stretched thin by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Obviously, we can use those Marines in more significant roles," said Gary Solis, a West Point professor and former official historian for the Marine Corps who frequently lectures at the Naval Academy. "But it's too bad a tradition like that has to end."

Marines have been providing security for the Naval Academy since 1851, six years after its founding. Back then, they were quartered aboard ships in the Severn River, which borders the 338-acre campus.

Michael I. Christman, a 1985 Naval Academy graduate who serves on the Annapolis City Council, taught his 2 1/2- year-old son to shout "ooh-rah" to the guards when the child passed through the gates to visit the campus. "It was just a way to pay respect to the guys standing duty, because it's not necessarily fun duty," Christman said.

The ceremony yesterday closed with a reading of the formal orders for the company to turn over its weapons and records. The academy band played a few bars of "Auld Lang Syne," then "Anchors Aweigh" and "The Marines' Hymn," as people in the crowd of 100 wiped their eyes. Dismissed for the final time, the young men wandered away.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Pass the Kool-Aid

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.

"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

-----

A second flood, a simple famine
Plagues of locusts everywhere
Or a cataclysmic earthquake
I'd accept with some despair
But, no, You sent us Congress.
Good God, sir, was that fair?
("Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve" Sung by John Adams (William Daniels)
in the musical 1776, by
Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone)

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Talk about a bad case of the Mondays...

"Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable."

Even worse, the survival of humankind will depend upon the skills of the great-grandchildren of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.

I take back everything I said about The Day After Tomorrow. But the CGI wolves still sucked.

(Thanks to Dennis Brunn on the ABC World News Now discussion list.)

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Wow! 2006 Hooters Calendar!

These are some wild birds. Get a load of May and December!

(From One Good Move, via boingboing.net.

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The Ultimate Force

Some years ago a famous novelist died. Among his papers was found a list of suggested story plots for future stories, the most prominently underscored being this one: "A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together." This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a big house, a great "world house" in which we have to live together - black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.

This means that more and more our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. We must now give an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in our individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response which is little more than emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the First Epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. As Arnold Toynbee says: "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word." We can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

A celebration

South Hills Interfaith Ministries will present "A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Southminster Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 799 Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.

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It's Zappa day, for no particular reason

Observations by the late Frank Zappa:

It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you.
(Thanks to Sherry from After the Bridge.)

Stupidity is replicating itself at an enormous rate. The person who stands up and says, "This is stupid," either is asked to "behave" or, worse, is greeted with a cheerful, "Yes, we know! Isn't it terrific!"

Americans like to talk about (or be told about) Democracy but, when put to the test, usually find it to be an "inconvenience." We have opted instead for an authoritarian system disguised as a Democracy. We pay through the nose for an enormous joke-of-a-government, let it push us around, and then wonder how all those assholes got in there.

It's not a matter of being misunderstood. It's a matter of being uncomprehended.

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.

The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced.

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

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Copyright © 1987-2017 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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Crystal Methodist


Laugh while you can, monkey-boy


I am a professional. Do not try this at home.


I canna change the laws of physics


As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)


Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence


I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


Left wing liberal nut job


Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.


Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.


If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.


If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?


Nutrition makes me puke


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eat wisely


Dyslexics have more fnu!


It's here!

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Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable


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