Thursday, November 30, 2006

"I Have Cancer, Three Kids, Please Help!"

There’s nothing like the holiday season for giving. It’s a beautiful time of year when we all say, “hey, what the hell, we all love each other, here, have a gift.” Pretty cool holiday, no matter how you cut it.

Of course, the cognitive dissidence of the holiday season and the reality in this country sometimes bites you on the ass and shakes you by the shirt collar. This precise thing happened to me yesterday, while I was Christmas shopping.

Here I was driving around town where I live here in Woodbridge, Virginia, driving down the Prince William Parkway. I pulled into the left turn lane so I could go to Panera Bread to get some lunch, but I just missed the green arrow. That’s when I noticed there was a guy standing on the grassy median strip, right next to my car.

I shot a glance at this guy and I could see that he wasn’t just some guy who was homeless doing some panhandling. We rarely see that here in Woodbridge anyway, with our $400,000 mini-mansions. This guy looked like he was in his late 40’s to mid 50’s, and he was decently dressed and well groomed. He looked like he could be some blue-collar worker, or a maybe an office worker.

I looked into his face and saw nothing but desperation. He was holding a cardboard sign, with a message written in black marker that read:

“I Have Cancer, Three Kids, Please Help!”

I sat there in my car looking at this guy, feeling like complete shit because I had nothing I could think to do to help him. Maybe I could have told him to collect $8,000 and move to Canada where he’ll get free health care. Maybe I could have directed him to some public resource unbeknownst to me that would help him with his dilemma. Hell, maybe just walking up to the guy and giving him a hug would have helped.

But there I sat, at the red light, not knowing what to do, looking at this guy who was desperate and quite possibly looking forward to a very short future that ends in misery and death. That red light seemed to take an eternity. I thought about what possibly could have led this guy to have to swallow his pride and stand out on the street corner and beg for help.

When this is the kind of thing that goes on in this country, we must admit to ourselves that our health care system, as it is currently manifested is a dismal failure. When we have people who must spend the last of their days on this earth begging for someone to help them, then we must say it’s time for a new way of doing things.

If there is anyone out there who knows who this guy is, perhaps there is something we can do collectively to help him. Hell, maybe we can even save his life. What better gift can anyone give for the Holiday Season?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shot By Police Fifty Times.

On Saturday morning Sean Bell, the father of two young children, was preparing for his big day on Sunday, when he planned to marry Nicole Paultre, his high school sweetheart and the mother of his two children.

The wedding never took place because the New York Police Department shot at Bell’s car 50 times. Four bullets ripped through Bell’s throat and torso, killing him. The shooting took place around 4 a.m. in the Jamaica section of Queens outside Kalua Cabaret, a strip club where Bell was having his bachelor party. Two of Bell’s friends were also wounded, Joseph Guzman was shot 11 times, and Trent Benefield was shot three times.

According to the NYPD the shootings occurred after Bell got into his car and bumped into a unmarked minivan that an uncover cop was sitting in. However, that account of events was disputed by one of the witnesses who wasn’t shot, Trini Wright, who works as a dancer at the club. Wright told the New York Daily News that Bell didn’t bump the unmarked minivan with his car, but that officers “jumped out shooting” from their vehicle and that there was “No ‘stop.’ No ‘freeze.’ No nothing.”

Bell’s execution-like death comes after NYPD officers killed unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo by firing upon him in his apartment 41 times in 1999. Four years later, Ousmane Zongo was killed by police in a raid on a warehouse where Zongo worked repairing musical instruments. Zongo was shot four times, twice in the back by officer Bryan Conroy. Conroy was in plain clothes and drew his weapon without identifying himself, and Zongo ran. Zongo’s killer, officer Conroy was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to five years of probation.

One does not have to look far to find other instances of police brutality against minorities to outright premeditated murder. But if we are to live in a society where we decide that we must have a group of citizens who are above the law to supposedly protect us, perhaps we should require that they can no longer carry firearms until they show the public that we can trust them enough to do so.

Until this is addressed, Sean Bell’s children will never stop screaming in horror for what was taken from them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Must Escalate! I Must Escalate!

One rarely stops to think about it, but there are just so many benefits every American enjoys everyday from the glories of outsourcing our jobs overseas. The benefits are virtually limitless. We Americans can get cheaper goods, at cheaper prices, at cheaper retail outlets, who luckily pay their workers cheaper wages. And since all those goods are made overseas the liberals among us will be happy as peaches because the US no longer has any domestic industry. Why would that make them happy? Because that means all those manufacturing plants that pollute the air will no longer be dirtying up Amurican air.

But with all these benefits, one thing we rarely think about, is the occasional joy we Americans get when we get to talk to one of those very people who have an outsourced job that some American once had. Sure, we don’t get to come across it often, but when we do, it’s always a pleasant gem to angrily discuss some technical issue with someone who has only the faintest grasp of English.

Since this is such a rare experience in modern American society, I thought I should share such an experience I had recently, when contacting a representative from Earthlink, who I poised the daunting question, “Why is my DSL service downloading slower than your average dail-up?” Here is the actual conversation that followed, with the sole edits being our handles and my personal information:
Welcome to Earthlink LiveChat. Your chat session will begin shortly.

Not at home and you want to read your email? With EarthLink Web Mail you can check your email from any computer with an internet connection!

Chat Information 'Earthlink Puke' says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?

Me: I have a slow connection, and I've had it since last Friday. I tested my speed and it's at 27 kbps. That’s downstream. Upstream is at 130.

Earthlink Puke: I apologize for inconvenience this may causing you. I assist you, let us work and find the cause and resolve issue. Do you have a router?

Me: a router?

Earthlink Puke: Through router we can connect multiple computers.

Me: no, I have an external modem and I only connect with this computer

Earthlink Puke: Open Internet Explore window click on Tools ---->Internet Options ---->Click on Delete cookies and click OK then click on Delete files and click OK.

Me: alright. generally speaking though I use mozilla as my browser.

Earthlink Puke: Okay, please delete cookies in browser.

Me: alright. done.

Earthlink Puke: Make sure your DSL device is not near any of the following as they can cause interference...

Halogen lamps
Fluorescent lights
900 MHz cordless phones
Cell Phones
Ham radios
AM radios
Electrical interference (don't put the router near a Monitor, UPS or motor driven device)
Dialup Modem, fax, or other device on the same phone line
Microwave oven
A shoddy phone cord
Home security/Alarm system#PFR#/BBT/Wir/Gen/IntermittentSync

Me: it's not. I haven't changed my setup recently since my connection slowed to a crawl. I was getting around 3 megs downstream last Friday.

Earthlink Puke: Have you installed any antivirus software in your computer?

Me: no, I haven't.

Earthlink Puke: What is most likely causing this problem is that your system resources are too low for your computer or some program running in the background is conflicting with the rest of your system. Remove the unwanted programs from StartUp using the below steps.

Me: ok…

Earthlink Puke: I will provide you with the steps. Remove the unwanted programs from StartUp using the below steps.

01. Click on Start button
02. Click on Run
03. Type msconfig
04. Click Ok , click on Startup tab.
05. Remove the check from program you don't want to start with the
Windows Startup.
Note: Please make sure that you uncheck files, those are not necessary for normal system startup.
You may uncheck any file, where you find the File path something like "C:\Program Files\ ..."
06. Click OK.
07. Restart your computer.

This will resolve the issue.

Me: Yes, I know how to do a start-up configuration. That’s not the problem. I just checked my task manager and i'm only using 2 to 4 percent of CPU usage. I suspect it's more of a network issue.

Earthlink Puke: In order to fix the issue I need to escalate the issue.

Me: You need to do what?

Earthlink Puke: I have to escalate the issue, I need some information.

Me: Okay. I don’t know what that means, but what information do you need?

Earthlink Puke: 1.Let me know the Preferred Contact phone number: (cell phone if available)
2.Does contact number have an answering machine or voicemail on preferred contact number?
3.Let me know the Earliest and Latest Contact Time at Preferred Contact Number.
4.Let me know the Latest Contact Time at Preferred Contact Number.
5.What is the Time Zone?
6.Let me know Preferred Email Address for Contact.
7. Do you stay in house or appartment

Me: :::giving this nutball my personal information:::

Earthlink Puke: Thank you for information.

Me: welcome.

Earthlink Puke: I have escalated the issue to our engineers they will check the line status will resolve the issue.

Me: alright.

Earthlink Puke: This is the Case number for further reference: :::6 didget number::: For further reference contact. Our Ticketing response operations network department.
Ah, the joys of quality customer service. Hey you Comcast assholes, when are you gonna lower your prices?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Meet James Carville, Republican Stooge.

Thanks to Howard Dean, and his 50 State Strategy, the Democrats have retaken the House and Senate. With a victory like that, you’d think that everyone in the Democratic Party would be pleased as punch that this year was ours. And, you’d be wrong.

Enter “The Cajin Grump” James Carville. Carville’s been bashing Howard Dean for not putting enough DNC money behind Carville’s DLC Congressional candidates.

And yet, as the Democrats top strategist during the Clinton era, the only thing Carville seems to have ever managed to accomplish is to win a 3-way Presidential race, lose both Houses of Congress to the Republicans, and barely stage off Clinton’s removal from office after his Impeachment.

Both Carville and Paul Begala criticized Dean time and time again, saying he couldn’t raise any money. What did Dean do? He raised record amonts of money, and the D.N.C. spent three times as much money in the 2006 campaign as they did in the last mid-term election. Begala and Rahm Emmanuel criticized Dean’s 50 State Strategy, with Begala saying funds were just going to OPEN state party offices to hire people to “stand around and pick their nose.” All that nose picking lead to massive Democratic victories in districts that were previously non-competitive, with massive Democratic victories in North Dakota, Indiana, and Montana.

What’s most disgusting about Carville’s criticism is it’s utter hypocrisy. It was Rahm Emmanuel, controlling the DCCC that poured 3 million extra dollars into Tammy Duckworth’s campaign, and yet she lost by 5 percentage points, and yet Emmanuel held funds from Democratic candidates all over the country simply because they were opposed to the Iraq War. Time after time, progressive Democratic candidates had to beg for funds from Air America listeners because Emmanuel wouldn’t produce a penny.

So Carville wants a new chairman at the head of the DNC, apparently for doing what Carville has never managed to do…win. Could this be because Dean knows that if you are to win you must put money into and hands of the grassroots to build the party from the ground up instead of stuffing Carville’s and Begala’s pockets? Or is it that Carville knows that Step One was to win back both houses of Congress, and Step Two will be the purging of the Democratic Party with the Republican-lite crowd at the DLC?

And since I’ve been in a creative mood as of late, I certainly think that Carville’s hypocrisy deserves a video montage.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Goodbye Republicans!

Here is a little video montage I did dedicated to the Republican majority of 1994 to 2006. America bids you farewell, and good riddance.

And to the rest of America who did the firing: Mission Accomplished.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Candidate Gets No Votes -- But He Voted For Himself.

I saw this at CNN, and thought it deserved a reprint.

WALDENBURG, Arkansas (AP) -- Randy Wooten figured he would get at least one vote in his bid for mayor of this town of 80 people -- even if it was just his own.

He did not. Now he has to decide whether to file a formal protest.

Wooten got the news from his wife, Roxanne, who went to City Hall on Wednesday to see the election results.

"She saw my name with zero votes by it. She came home and asked me if I had voted for myself or not. I told her I did," said Wooten, owner of a local bar.

However, Poinsett County results reported Wednesday showed incumbent William H. Wood with 18 votes, challenger Ronnie Chatman with 18 votes and Wooten with zero.

"I had at least eight or nine people who said they voted for me, so something is wrong with this picture," Wooten said.

Poinsett County Election Commissioner Junaway Payne said the issue had been discussed but no action taken yet.

"It's our understanding from talking with the secretary of state's office that a court order would have to be obtained in order to open the machine and check the totals," Payne said. "The votes were cast on an electronic voting machine, but paper ballots were available."

A November 28 runoff is scheduled to decide the mayor's race.

"It's just very hard to understand," Wooten said.

How much more evidence do we need before we get rid of these goddamned voting machines?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election 2006.

A day before the election Bill O’Reilly claimed that the election turnout for 2006 would be quite low. The “surprise” is that the mid-term elections had record turnout. In the state of Virginia, we saw an all time record turn out for a mid-term election, with a total turnout being comparable to a Presidential election year, at a total turnout of about 40% of the total registered voters. In comparison, the 1994 election that swept Republicans into control of Congress saw a turn out of only 27% of the registered voters.

As everyone now knows, it seems the American People actually did like the Democrats, as they took a commanding control of the House, taking out nearly 30 Republican incumbents. In the various governorship elections across the country the Democrats won 6 more seats, commanding a healthy majority of state governor offices. And in the Senate the Democrats unseated 5 incumbents, and looks set to unseat a 6th in Virginia’s George Allen seat, giving the Democrats a 51 seat majority in the Senate.

It turns out that sometimes democracy does work. And to the Republicans, let me just say this…neaner neaner neaner.