Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Fudge

I don't read the website of the guy whose name rhymes with fudge. Why?
Really, no sooner can you say "slow news day" and Drudge comes to the rescue:
VICE PRESIDENT HILLARY;
SPECULATION INTENSIFIES IN WASHINGTON

[Please imagine the 70 point type and siren.]
Full, er, "story", at Wonkette.

Good news

Via Keith, CNN apparently like Cleveland more than our local paper!

Odd story

Odd story, this...
Seeking support from black and Hispanic voters, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry pledged Tuesday to ease citizenship for working immigrants and improve educational opportunities for minority- and low-income students.
Being an immigrant but neither black nor Hispanic, I would assume he is explicitly NOT seeking my support. Which seems and odd position to take, I scan up the page to the byline:
Nedra Pickler
Associated Press
That explains it. To have your news remixed, as the kids say, in a neo-RNC way, just send Pickler!

Trainees

The PeeDee carries a piece on how we're supposed to keep an eye out for terrorist "trainees". They even tell you to look for useful things like suspicious rope burns. But I think this doesn't go far enough. Though my dark self said, "Self - perhaps this is more meaningless, useless garbage put out to remind people HEY THERE'S TERRORISTS OUT THERE...somewhere as a cynical ploy by the government to make it seem like they are doing something". But let's not be cynical about this. I propose we look for these less-well known signs someone is a terrorist "trainee":


  • Has a "trainee" badge, and when asked about it, says "Let's just say Osama is my role model" with a big wink

  • Hairnets

  • When setting the detonator on the bomb, has to keep calling to other terrorists for help

  • Doesn't know how to use the photocopier

  • AK-47 is too shiny

  • Looks in askance to older terrorists to figure out when his lunch break is

  • Keeps driving truck bombs to Manhattan, Kansas by mistake

  • Still has the "Smiles are free, nailbombs aren't" button on

  • Wants to "stake out" Spencer Tunick photo events

  • Not enough flair

Like George said

I used to think George was paranoid. He would comment, every so often, on the local media's love of framing news stories about our burg, Cleveland, in a negative light. He was say "why did they have to say it that way", and why did the media seem hell-bent to put a negative spin on anything happening in the region. However, this story in the PeeDee makes me think George isn't even a little bit crazy.

Let's say you are a reporter for the Cleveland PeeDee. You have a story assigned to you about a magicians convention in the city. Cool, you might think. Because try though you might, it's hard to make a conference of say, Sewer Engineers sound like fun. But here you have excitement built in. Hell you even have a rabbit that plays cards. Let me repeat that. A rabbit that plays cards. So what's your opening on this fairly-good story?
A multitude of magicians from across the world will help make downtown Cleveland's economic struggles disappear this weekend
I hope George is ready to hand out cluesticks and administer beatings.

Jobs, or lack thereof

Of course unemployment, for lack of a better term, sucks rusty nails. I've been there, and am lucky to have a job with a local, private company with good growth prospects. Unfortunately my much more intelligent and talented spouse M_ is now looking for a place for her skills and knowledge.

In that vein, there was an excellent economic article yesterday in Slate by Daniel Gross, skewering a few economic myths. Chiefly I tend to agree with the ones regarding economic productivity, job growth, and how it relates to large-scale tax policies.
But the stock answers that conservatives give to employment problems are being proved false. Are Americans lazier today than they were a few years ago? If so, why aren't low marginal tax rates making them less lazy? How about those generous unemployment and welfare benefits, which are supposed to be a disincentive to work? There's less of a safety net today than there was in the 1990s. Could it be John Kerry and his relentless pessimism? If jobs can be willed into existence through a sunny disposition, we should replace Elaine Chao with Kelly Ripa.
He also links to this handy chart of employment by percentage of population.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Ferry to Canada

As some of you know, they are contemplating a ferry service between Cleveland and Canada. One problem may be in some cases it's faster to drive. It's even true of the Lake Ontario ferry between Rochester, NY and Toronto, as one enterprising Globe and Mail reporter found out. Quoth:
Even the ferry's website, where I reserved my $43.50 one-way ticket, is careful not to make claims about shaving time off your road trip, billing the ferry "not as a replacement for driving but as an exciting new alternative."

Exciting it certainly is, if you can stand the hurricane-like wind on the back deck, watching the ferry's engines churn up a surf-like wake as the CN Tower shrinks in the background.

But back inside the boat were amenities that Peter, stuck behind the wheel waiting for the next truck stop, could not even imagine.

At the duty-free shop, I could buy a litre of Canadian Club for $15.95 (U.S.), or choose from an array of Toronto sweatshirts and maple-sugar products. Two movie theatres, equipped with plasma screens and airline-style seats, were showing Starsky and Hutch and Scooby Doo II.
Heh.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Goats for Fair Trade

No, not the kind 21st century people tried semi-successfully to milk on Colonial House on PBS, but the kind that write blogs, namely Foodgoat and Ladygoat. They are doing some marathon blogging:
Foodgoat and I are going to blog every half hour for 24 hours on July 24. Our theme will be Fair Trade: we'll be sampling various fair trade products, including tea, chocolate, bananas, and whatever else we can find. And since I haven't pulled an all-nighter since my undergrad days, the second half of the day will likely feature lots and lots of fair trade coffees as we blearily try to keep on bloggin'.
Sounds like a good cause, too - read about it on their blog, here.

This brings back memories of the terrifying Band-a-thon circa 1980ish. All of the bands in the school system got together in an empty corner store of a mall, and played music for 24 hours a day, for about three to four days. Those 4 AM shifts playing such classics as uh, "Mellow Pudding" were quite fun. That was what almost made me give up playing music at all, until the High School reached down to us Junior High kids to pulls us up to play slightly more interesting music.

Hot election coverage

Flea has some hot stuff on his site, tangentially related to the Canadian Federal election going on right now. They have a choice between a party of the status quo, which in some instances is doing a mediocre job, another party which has some issues that Flea (and me) would make them unelectable for us, and some other parties that have no chance of getting into power. Judging by some polls, it might be a minority government, the first since Joe Clark's ill-fated expedition many years ago.

Wireless and Brainless

A high tech ransom occurred in Maryland, where someone sent demands and threats by hijacking unsecured home and business wireless networks. This made it technically impossible to tell who was sending the messages. The extortionist covered his tracks very well. However, he wasn't exactly a criminal mastermind ready for a modern day Sherlock Holmes:
The clearest sign came when he issued the seventeen million dollar extortion demand, and instructed the company to "make the check payable to Myron Tereshchuk."
Sending your name tends to allow the detectives to figure out who you are.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Technorati

For some reason my "Technorati" cosmos (on the right hand side there) seems to show who links to me, but titles the page: "La Cosa Húmeda - Fabrizio Ferri Benedetti (Alias Algernon)". Huh?

Fahrenheit 9/11

I just saw Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and found it an arresting, if uneven effort. The crowds for the film were remarkable -it was sold out (this on a Saturday afternoon, for a movie with no orcs, light-sabers, or even Jesus). There may be some spoilers in this post, so stop reading if you want to see it with "fresh" eyes. I've lead a lot of vitriol in the press and the web concerning this movie, usually focusing on Mr. Moore's weight and that "fact" that he's crazy. It's certainly a very biased movie in the sense that Mr. Moore has a particular point of view he wishes to espouse. But I've never thought that documentary filmmakers have to exist in some politically neutral ground - for one thing I wouldn't buy it. I bet even those filming tree frogs in Brazil have ideas on free trade, abortion, and taxes. But on to the movie. If you hate Moore - well he is in the movie on screen much less than in Roger & Me. But he is the narrator, so if you suffer seizures like Kramer from Seinfeld when his voice is heard, better skip this one.

It begins with a montage of the 2000 election, which at the time I thought was surreal enough, but Moore casts as a kind of bad dream that he wonders if it actually happened. Less effective is the parade of Democratic Congressmen and women attempting to have the join session of Congress not certify the election. Mr. Gore at that point knew the legal fight was over, and was not interested in pursuing a supra-legal override. The film moves on to show Bush taking numerous vacations in Maine and Texas during the first year of his presidency. The most alarming parts, given what happened, that involve memos and warnings of terrorist plots are a bit unfair in that they don't depict more than some sound bites and shots of vacation fun as the response, without getting into a great deal of detail. 9/11 itself is treated respectfully - Moore does not actually show the planes hitting the tower. The shots of reactions of people in NYC bring back some chilling memories.

The story of Bush's rather unsuccessful business career is told, as is the association of Bush's family with members of the Saudi royal family, and indirectly - usually through the Carlyle Group - with the Bin Laden clan. It’s probably on these points that most of those lambasting Moore as a tinfoil hatter are hanging their arguments. I thought the association with Bin Laden's family not so worrisome as how deeply involved the Saudis in general are with prominent and powerful US politicos. Honestly my readings of "reviews" by some web site made me think that in the film that claims would be made by Moore of Bush knowing what would happen when in fact he makes exactly the opposite claim, that the administration was not sufficiently worried by the chances of terrorist attacks. I know some nut bars out there claim all sorts of vile garbage about Bush, but such claims are not present in this film. Moore implies that Bush is rather too easy on the Saudis considering that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and Bin Laden himself is from one of it's richest families.

One key point I've read here and there is that Moore incorrectly asserts that the US let some Saudi nationals, including some of the Bin Laden clan, fly out of the US while most commercial traffic was grounded after 9/11. However, Moore specifically narrates that they were let out after September 13th, and seems mostly concerned, via an interview with an ex-FBI terror export, that many of them were not interviewed extensively enough given the magnitude of the attack. Yes, I know Richard Clarke was the official who ordered the evacuation. But I have to doubt the sanity of anyone who thinks the administration was unaware or did not approve of this action. IF they were unaware, that’s actually a worse indictment than approval, don't you think?

The second half of the film drags on a little, although it has many jarring sequences of bombings in Iraq both during the invasion and after the carrier landing and the "Mission Accomplished" sign. Moore's use of footage showing happy Iraqi kids playing and flying kites may be his most off-key moment in the movie. He doesn't so much gloss over Saddam's atrocities as not go into them at all, though it's fair to say they have been covered extensively in other media reports, and here he is addressing other issues. Though I never met Moore, I'd probably most want to rip into him for this sequence. After this scene, one in particular of a grieving Iraqi woman is so raw it lets you know that we are definitely not in a light to heavy mockery of "the man" as in "Roger & Me", which as a film, definitely has more laughs. A sequence of Marine recruiters outside a Flint, Michigan mall hunting down potential recruits is probably the finniest scene in the film. They hunt them down like the salesmen in "Glengarry Glenn Ross" pick leads.

The use of one mom of a soldier provides what has to be the emotional core of the film, though it's not all in one sequence. One in particular of her breaking down outside the White House is almost unbearable in it's anguish. That the administration has not given deep thought to who it's attacking and why, is one of Moore's keynotes, and he makes a fairly convincing case in the context of the film. His known antiwar stances outside this film weaken this point somewhat.

Least effective is when Moore attempts to tie together too much near the end of the film, somehow trying to link increased defense spending with poverty, and the problems of the impoverished leading them to adopt a higher rate of military service as the only jobs available. He's better when pointing out the specific administration foibles, not trying to slap-dash his own socialist mantra onto what is happening.

The most disturbing part of the film for many, myself included, was the portion showing Bush's reacting to the second plane hitting by sitting and reading "My Pet Goat" with schoolchildren for an inexplicable seven minutes. Moore's attempts to guess at what he is thinking are not so convincing - in fact, they are perhaps the second-weakest note in the film. The impression that Bush was waiting for someone to tell him what to do is a worrisome conclusion that's hard to dismiss.

Given Moore's reported factual problems with "Bowling for Columbine", which I have not seen, I am interested in any factual inaccuracies in this film as well. On first viewing, the main problems seem to ones of interpretation and inference, not so much any facts that I noted as being wrong. But overall, it's so rare to see a movie exploring American politics with such naked opinions, compared with the dull, washed up TV news coverage, that it's just not possible to ignore this movie as a major political film of our time.


Update: 6/27 5:43 PM Atrios found that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is encouraging people to go see this film too. I'm guessing this doesn't fit in with the whole Moore-is-an-elitist spin. Now if had been Jeff Gordon...

Update: 6/30 According to the Daily Howler, Moore implies the bin Laden's left the country when no one else could (which isn't true). Perhaps my reading on the issue beforehand coloured my view, but I guess I didn't take the same implication from Moore's description. It's debatable, with an edge to the Howler's POV, I think.

Battle of the local weeklies

Chas Rich points out the long war between Cleveland's two free weekly papers, the Free Times and Cleveland Scene. They are especially fond of filling up column inches railing against the editors of the each other's papers. The wit and clarity of these attacks usually rises to the level of a girl in the jazz choir complaining about how solos in "Boy from New York City" are handed out. Bother papers are going for the elusive body piercing ads and want to ensure they get the young hipsters reading their paper, and not the other one. The whole conflict reminds of the potential for violent conflict if you have ever seen a high school class where not one but two people are both trying to be "the guy who wears a fedora". One is willing to give both papers a chance, owing to the absolutely awful PeeDee which serves as the only major daily in the region, but the petty bickering between the two free papers is nearly enough to wish for illiteracy.

Delayed Gold and a forgotten championship

Congratulations to Beckie Scott, who was finally awarded an Olympic Gold Medal - the same medal that went to not one but two drug-using competitors who had been up against her in the five-kilometer free pursuit in Salt Lake City in 2002. When the first winner was disqualified due to positive tests for a banned substance, Beckie had previously been upgraded to the silver.
Oddly enough, the determined cross-country skier from Vermilion, Alta., now has had possession of all three medals from the women's five-kilometer free pursuit at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

"It's a fantastic day, a great day," she said. "In some ways I'm still in disbelief that it's actually here.

"It's been a long journey, but one that's culminated in the ultimate reward."
Of course most Canadians are still wondering when another abomination in sports will be corrected. The year was 1980, the place, Truro Nova Scotia. In the house league the Bible Hill Pee Wee's team [disclaimer - I was a defenseman - J] was playing for the championship. Less than 5 minutes remained on the clock as literally tens of people in the stands cheered on their beloved Bible Hill team, which was having a Cinderella season, and looking spiffy in black, I must say. But they started to clean the ice, and would not let us finish the game, though we trailed by one goal. The reason? The referees had showed up several minutes late for the game, and we had run out of rental ice time. Perhaps we can enlist true heroes like Beckie Scott to our cause, but until then, I think I speak for our team in saying we are glad in her case that justice has finally been done.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Help Wanted

Via the king of all things bloggish in Cleveland, George Nemeth, I see there's a blog with advice for those looking for work. Nowadays, that seems to be a lot of people.

Irony

Why hold a conference on the "Information Society" where jail sentences are handed out for seeking information? Frederick would like to ask the UN the same question. And if case Alanis Morissette is thinking of writing a song about it, yes this is actually ironic.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Single stupidest thing I've read all week

Armond White gets the honors for this gem:
It's not impossible that the torturers at Abu Ghraib - including even Saddam Hussein's own precedent-setting torturers - were inspired by the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs. QT made sadism hip and sent it 'round the world.
No, it's not impossible, just incredibly moronic - or do we owe you an apology for recycling spin points? I suppose the hatred of Jews in the Middle East all stems from Arabs trying to emulate Vincent Pryce's character in the "Ten Commandments". Now there's a good source of quotes..."You hold your tongue as well as I hold my whip". Hmmm, that line is probably to blame for homosexuality too, while we're at it.

Nearly a bad day in Toronto

There were some scary moments involving a potential mad gunman where my birth-mom and her family used to walk a dog in Toronto. Just down the street, someone was preparing to start gunning people down. I've walked a dog at that plant - or more accurately chased after a very fast border collie. It's basically two large grassy areas that are bordering the lake. Dog owners take their pets there to play all year round. My birth-mom, her late husband and my brothers there would go there all the time - they live just up the street. However, apparently a dog saved the day:
The man started to ready his weapons in the early afternoon sunshine outside the grounds of the R.C. Harris filtration plant at Victoria Park Avenue and Queen Street. He later told police that he planned to shoot people in the park and then drive around the city killing whomever he could to ensure he would get life in jail.

"It's scary how close it could have been," Toronto Police Detective Nick Ashley said last night. "We have a dog to thank somewhere."

The man had several rifles and telescopic lenses, a camouflage balaclava, as well as a .357 magnum and a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, a machete and other knives.

He had loaded his pistols and was readying the rifles, police said. They were in his car's trunk along with the ammunition; he had removed the safeties and trigger locks.

He changed his mind when a dog on a walk in the park would not leave him alone.

"He happens to be a pet lover, and he decided that if there was such a nice dog in the area the people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan," Det. Ashley said.
It was a bit surreal reading about this happening so close to people I know. As for it ending up with no deaths, we all should say "thank dog".

Message to yahoos

One of the most useful programs I have is Trillian. In a nutshell, it lets me sign on to MSN chat, AOL instant messenger, ICQ, IRC, and Yahoo Messenger all in one application. Since many of my friends and family use different flavours of chat programs, it would be irritating to have five or six different chat programs using up space on my desktop tray and my patience. Trillian rolls it all into one. But now Yahoo has decided to block users of Trillian from accessing their Yahoo chat accounts, except through Yahoo's bigger, noisier, client software. I honestly see this as the essence of stupidity. Imagine if Yahoo decided it didn't like other companies sending emails to Yahoo mailboxes, and insisted you use a special Yahoo only program for email - that also blocked emails from outside of Yahoo from reaching you. Instead of having an infinite number of chatting standards, the Big companies need to agree to a unified standard or at least a way to exchange information between the systems.

Update: 6/25 Mollbot points out Trillian has a patch now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Bad bathroom

I know our bathroom still needs to be redecorated, but nothing could be as bad as this one in a pic on B.Q. It looks like a schizoid IRA member was working with a blind Scotsman and a drunk Swede.

Katie Melua

Katie Melua is a young - and what's with all these young people making me feel ancient - singer from London via Ireland via Russia. Her album is called Call Off the Search and it has apparently been a big hit on the UK charts. Of course, the Brits also loved that TV show 'The Young Ones' so they can't always be counted upon to have great taste. But I think they have this one right. Skimming the usually amusing Amazon reviews finds mostly positive reviews, and some whining that she isn't Norah Jones - which is neither insightful nor informative. I have to remember to avoid the Amazon reviews, it's like chewing tinfoil with my eyes.

Her voice sounds young - but it's an enjoyable timbre. Her phrasing has been called "showbiz-like" by some, but I found it listenable and you find yourself paying attention to what she does with words at each turn. There is a faint foreign tinge to some of the words, but it adds a spice to the tunes. The acid test for a singer is the voice and the phrasing - I find myself liking both a great deal. I wouldn't call it Jazz to be sure, but it has some bluesy riffs, and does not fall into the trap of being a stale pop album, but something you actually will want to listen to for a long time. She's backed up by mixtures of small ensembles and an orchestral - sparingly - but she manages not to be overwhelmed by orchestration. You end up listening to her sing, not to the arrangements, which leave space for her to work. She also wrote two songs, and I liked the Penguins and Cats tune a lot - that's going on the MP3 player. Honestly I'm so pleased to hear acoustic music with a singer with a good pair of lungs, sick as I am of "American Idol" and it's ilk peddling what is essentially the same song on our airwaves for years now. If people have any sense at all, they'll enjoy Katie's work here, but more importantly, welcome a new voice.

Moore

Salon posts two reviews of Michael Moore's new movie, Andrew Heir calls him a new Dickens, but Stephanie Zacharek is less impressed by his efforts. Many of her arguments about disliking his approach and some ideas ring true to me - Moore can have some off moments. I'll be seeing it this weekend...

Not in the FAQ

Not found on this FAQ page for a site ostensibly about time travel, and purporting - albeit, probably not seriously - to be from the future:
In the future, when did they decide hot pink text on a black background was a good idea?

Ice Cream emergency

This is why every car on the road needs the following in it's emergency kit:

- fudge
- nuts
- sprinkles (aka jimmies)
- bananas
- spoons

Missing

What's missing from this Cleveland PeeDee story on Bill Clinton's new book? Not much I suppose. It grudgingly admits Clinton's book is outdoing his wife's bestseller in pre-sales. But then it spends a good deal of time snarking about bookstores that opened early or stayed open late to sell the new tome did not sell as many as quickly as expected. It's certainly fair to note it got negative reviews, generally. But prominence is given in the story to a bookseller who calls Clinton a liar, and pointedly talks about canceling orders for more stock of this work. Also this sentence: "although other area bookstores also reported weak sales before noon.. " jumped out at me. Compared to what? Ah, that's what's missing. How did any other book, ever compare in the several negative anecdotes about area bookstores not selling the book as quickly? The elusive comparison to anything else. I'm not saying the PeeDee editors assigned someone to do a negative spin on Bill's book, but absent examples of other books and their "pre-noon" sales, it's hard to see it as a news story.

A Jump too far

A speeder in handcuffs tried to escape Linndale, Ohio police by jumping over a fence. However, the fence was the side of a bridge over a 100 foot ravine, and he did not survive.. I've driven under those bridges in the Rocky River Reservation - anyone who had any idea they were near them would know it was insane to try to jump from them. The story indicates alcohol was involved.

Linndale, you may recall won a court case to be able to patrol the highway in their town.
Linndale is only three blocks long and divided by a quarter-mile of Interstate 71. For years, police caught speeders on the small section of the highway that runs through the village. The money collected from fines made up most of Linndale's $480,000 annual budget.
There is no exit ramp in the town.

Gay Proposals

Mitch Romney, GOP governor of Massachusetts, wants the US senate to try and pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and in a nod to "state's rights", to remove the ability of any state to decide for itself if it wants gay marriage or not. Never mind that it cannot get the 67 votes needed, the important thing is to get on the record how furious republicans are at gays, who I would presume by the GOP fury are plucking straight people out of happy marriages to a life of haute couture in the case of gay men, and plaid work shirts in the case of lesbians. The horror! But his stated rationale?
Mr. Romney said although "the sky's not going to be falling," the adverse effects of same-sex "marriage" on the raising of children won't be known or seen for generations.
"Until we understand the implications for human development of a different definition of marriage, I believe we should preserve that which has endured over thousands of years," he said.
Perhaps we should set up a testing ground, say Cape Cod, where we can let gays raise children for thousands of years, and see how they turn out. Oh you say we've already had that, it's just that for thousands of years gays were ostracize, beaten, and killed, while they weren't raising kids like anyone else? Let Romney know, I'm sure it's escaped his notice.

Nudes in Cleveland

Cleveland is getting some more artistic...exposure. Thomas Mulready interviews Spencer Tunick at his always informative Cool Cleveland site. Mr. Tunick is best known his many large scale nude photos, many taken in city streets around the world. Here's a snippet from the interview:
Your online bio states that the nude bodies in your work 'do not underscore sexuality' yet it is an obvious element. What is the role of sexuality in your work?
Well, obviously, the work is working with the nude, which can be sexual or it can be horrible, like the controversy with the prisoner abuse scandal, with the nude bodies positioned in a totally horrible way. When you look at those pictures you don't see the sexuality. There can be an aggressive naked body, a tortured naked body, or a beautiful naked body. In my work, the body is used repetitively as a medium to create a living sculpture to deal with the humanity and the vulnerability of the body, juxtaposed to the public space and the concrete world. So it's not so much sex or sexuality that is involved.
I remember from the HBO documentary on Tunick that he seemed a bit high-strung, but the effect of his photos is undeniable. They are going to be doing a photo shoot in Cleveland at dawn on Friday, June 26th. You can sign up at his website - people who come out for the shoot get a free 8x10 photo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Obligatory I got nothing post

Ok, I got nothing. How about another rehashed parody of the Ready.gov posters?


If there is a nuclear explosion, pull off to the side of the road, and enjoy the view.


Now might be a good time to try out that ejection seat you had installed, unless you really want to spend your last minutes of life with the annoying person sitting next to you.



The nuclear blast will likely knock out your car's power. But simply hook your battery up to any nearby power pole, and you can enjoy some tunes.


Whatever you do, don't make your way to San Francisco after the fallout.


They'll make you start using matching towels, and the living shall envy the dead.

BCIS improvements

The BCIS (the former INS) is attempting to eliminate the massive backlog of immigration related applications it handles each year. Having been through the process, I can testify that the main annoyance are the long waits. I had applied in the summer of 2002 for a green card, and it took til October 03 to get an interview. During that time there were few, if any, ways to get updated statuses or check what was happening. It's a long time to be waiting to find out, in some cases, where you will have to live. The BCIS claims
During the next three years, USCIS will eliminate the 3.7 million backlogged cases by changing the culture through which immigration services and benefits are administered.
There are two problems I see with this approach. It's similar to most incoming - or wanting to be incoming - politicians, each of whom promise to eliminate waste and inefficiency in a bureaucratic culture. When they get into power though, things rarely seem to change. It's like trying to lose weight by "really wanting to lose weight". If they can find processes that can be eliminated or streamlined, that could help. But absent specific improvements, position papers claiming there will be a culture change seems a little hollow.

Another thing I noticed on my various trips to BCIS offices, was how lightly staffed they were, given the teeming masses in their waiting rooms. The service counter rarely had more than one window open, so it was a given you’d be waiting for hours even on a light day. When I finally got my green card interview, the interviewer's office showed she was practically buried in paperwork to review. I don't see how to process can work much faster if it's still dependent largely on paperwork, and seems, at least from a "customer" point of view, to have too few people. I am grateful someone is acknowledging the problem needs to be fixed...the details of the execution will be the key.

Clipboard is not a search warrant

A self-described PETA member conned her way into a Westlake, Ohio home claiming she was investigating how a couple was treating it's animals.
Officials indicate that Brooke had the couple feed the kittens and parrot, who she wanted them to make speak. The children also held the kittens so that Brooke could reportedly observe the interaction.
. Not sure if Brooke is actually a PETA representative, though honestly it would not surprise me. Let this be a lesson: just because someone has a clipboard, does not mean they have a right to enter your home.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Canadian health care

Canada, I think, gets health care mostly right. It's one of the few things that makes M_ consider moving there from time to time. It comes indirectly under a bit of fire from Canadians are Smug. A local (to the writer) candidate for the left-wing NDP is a doctor, and S.C. says of him:
Mr. Guyatt instead writes self-interested articles in that paper defending the socialized healthcare and education system that has personally benefitted him to a great extent
I'm not so sure that socialized medicine has given great benefits to doctors in Canada in general, though I do not know this doctor in particular. If that were so, why then would many go to the US? If instead the argument is that socialized medicine keeps doctors, who would otherwise have to find other employment, in cushy jobs I'm not so sure of that either. From what I read, doctors are in short supply. If he is saying that Dr. Guyatt is self-interested in socialized medicine because he's a socialist, I find this may be true but not particularly informative. I might level similar attacks against politicians who want to inject religion into public life because they are religious, but an attack on them simply because they are religious and I am not is not much of an argument, though it would illustrate what I think.

Zombie Power

Like most people, I wonder what would happen in the case of the most likely emergencies. For example, how long would we have electricity if zombies started to take over? Cecil has the answers. In the case of a "28 Days Later" style fast-moving zombies, we're looking at hours or days. More traditional "Night of the Living Dead" slower, ambling, zombies might give us time to spin out power for weeks or even months depending on the method of generation. Pat Boone style zombies could mean the cessation of listenable music at a faster pace.

Of course there is a paradox that usually goes unanswered in zombie movies. Why do the zombies attack living people, but not each other? It cannot be brainpower allowing them to recognize living versus dead, as the zombified seem not to recognize loved ones as they attempt to dine on said loved one's brains. Perhaps they go by what meat smells fresher? One would have to wonder at the olfactory response in the decayed, ambling tissue of the zombie. Perhaps they know, they unlike the stars of the film, they are being paid as extras.

Cleveland spots

Not too far from the Cleveland Bop Stop, on Cleveland's West Side, are some revitalized spots. Kim Palmer, in the Cleveland PeeDee, reports on a colourful neighbourhood of immigrants in Cleveland.
A trip to the Detroit-Shoreway district is like visiting a cultural archeological dig, because this community retains the stamp of multiple immigration settlements, including waves from Ireland, Germany and Italy, all of which have had a profound effect on the area's architecture and commerce.

And the most recent influx, of Hispanic and Asian immigrants, blends in, creating a place where the old and new worlds meet. In this neighborhood, it is just a short walk from Minh-Anh, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant and grocery store, to Stockyard Meats, an old-world butcher shop.

You can find a map here.

Cigars versus bombs

Mickey Kaus tries to read the bomb remnants and decide whether terrorists want Bush or Kerry elected in November. I don't know why he thinks it is important to understand what people who would just as soon murder everyone in the US think of our elections. But perhaps he thinks if we can get people talking about what the terrorists "want", it will somehow pan out to be a positive for Bush. He tosses out this aside: "...Bush is less likely than Kerry to withdraw from Iraq...". I'm curious where this information is coming from. Not from Kerry's stated platform, to be sure. Kaus does end up conceding the terrorist's motives may simply be to attack us, which he helpfully compares to Clinton's sexual proclivities. Putting these two things in the same sentence gives us an insight into Mr. Kaus's system of mental organization.

Dogs in MLK Park

There's a great looking park in Cleveland along MLK Boulevard. It features gardens tended by various ethic groups, some with great shrubbery and flowers. It also has wild dogs. Everyone who has driven down there regularly has seen the pack. It's members vary but it's obviously made up of strays. I would not for a moment consider walking there at night, but even that may not be caution enough. Kathleen A. Heydorn, in the letter linked above, mentions being surrounded by the pack on her bike. She asks "Do we have to wait for someone to be maimed or killed?" Clearly for the city the answer is yes. Rather than stake out the park for the dogs that everyone knows are there, they will wait til there is a serious attack. Blood is the oil that moves bureaucracy.

Friday, June 18, 2004

BFG

Via Tony's Tech talk, comes a story about a new kind of stun-gun - and check out the pic!. If I saw someone holding a gun that freaking big pointed anywhere near my general vicinity, I wouldn't wait around to find out what exactly it did.

Partisans

Michael J. Totten has some words of advice for Andrew Sullivan, including this choice graf:
Political parties are cruel to people who think. The more partisan members are bigots. They hate people in the other political party, and they hate you if you don't follow orders. If you're going to talk about principles you might as well be writing in Martian for those who will jump at a moment's notice to stay on the right side of the party line.
The only thing idealists - and that's how I see most political parties - want to hear is that which confirms what they already believe. Since I started blogging I've been called "way too liberal", "typical right-winger", and "pinko". All these type of attacks have one thing in common - they are not arguments.

Jazz in Cleveland

Barbara Payne listens to some healthy Jazz - namely, the Robert Ocasio Latin Jazz Project. There are few better ways to spend sultry summer nights than listening to Jazz, as Barbara points out. The other weekend I was at The Cleveland Bop Stop, a beautiful club on the near west Side, with a nice sunset view of Lake Erie. Dominic Farinacci led a quintet on trumpet through some jazz standards, there was very nice interplay with the group with a very energetic Jackie Warren on the keys. Dominic is a very skilled player, with imagination and playfulness that brings life out of the well-known standards. For one so young - or is that that I'm so old - he really holds the center of the group. Not to mention if you haven't seen this club, it's basically built for listeners. On the menu, the Brie En Croute for Two makes it a truly civilized evening.

Firefox

Michael is baldly boldly dumping Internet Explorer in favour of Firefox. I've been using it recently, and so far it seems snappier than IE. Maybe it will be less security-breach prone as well. The only thing I miss in it is the "BlogThis" button (which I think I can probably build and put on it anyway).

Found humour

The Bug Blog is where Bruce tracks bugs for everyone. He has what I guess is a script to generate part of his header info to point to his archives, and it currently says:
The BugBlog uses monthly archives. All the June bugs will be on this page.
Those things are freaky.

Too cool for school?

John Etorre has a few cutting observations about Cool Cleveland, which is a kind of hipster-municipal thing in Cleveland
As the Cool Cleveland machine cranks up its latest spasm of self-congratulatory excess, loudly patting itself on the back for actually coming out to an inner-ring burb for the first time ever today, there was a timely warning in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal (available online only for subscribers, but you can find the piece reprinted here) about all that municipal hipster jazz.
Ouch. Then it does remind me of how at 13-14, me and my pals would gather and play board based wargames, congratulating ourselves on cool it all was.

Damra guilty

Fawaz Damra was found guilty "of lying about past links to terrorist groups". He could lose his US citizenship, gained in 1994, and be deported. He was the lead Iman at the biggest local Mosque in the area, but has since been limited by the Mosque members as to how often he can go there, in a separate civil action. There's no doubt he holds some vile views, as when he referred to Jews as being "sons of moneys and pigs" or "descended from apes and swine" depending on the translation, in a speech at a fund raiser many years ago. He has attempted to distance himself from those words, claiming that we in the US don't "understand" what he means.

I'm no lawyer, but I thought a key question in his trial would be did he lie in his application for citizenship by saying he did not support terrorist groups - he did support groups that were officially labeled as terrorist groups by the US, but it was done after he gained his citizenship. Or is the question more that he supported an organization that is now known to be terrorist, and he didn't rely on what the State Department said in any case.

9/11 findings

FFrom the 9/11 Commission’s Staff Report::
FAA guidance to controllers on hijack procedures assumed that the aircraft pilot would
notify the controller of the hijack via radio communication or by “squawking” a
transponder code of “7500”—the universal code for a hijack in progress. Controllers
would notify their supervisors, who in turn would inform management all the way up to
FAA headquarters in Washington. Headquarters had a “hijack coordinator” who was the
Director or his designate of the FAA Office of Civil Aviation Security.
If a hijack was confirmed, procedures called for the hijack coordinator on duty to contact
the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) and to ask for a military
“escort aircraft” to follow the flight, report anything unusual, and aid search and rescue in
the event of an emergency. The NMCC would then seek approval from the Office of the
Secretary of Defense to provide military assistance. If there was approval, the orders
would be transmitted down NORAD’s chain of command and direct the sector to launch
a fighter escort.
The protocols did not contemplate an intercept. They assumed the fighter escort would
be discreet, “vectored to a position five miles directly behind the hijacked aircraft,”
where it could perform its mission to monitor the flight path of the aircraft.
In sum, the protocols in place on 9/11 for the FAA and NORAD to respond to a hijacking
presumed that:
(1) the hijacked aircraft would be readily identifiable and would not attempt to
disappear;
(2) there would be time to address the problem through the appropriate FAA and
NORAD chains of command; and
(3) the hijacking would take the traditional form, not a suicide hijacking designed to
convert the aircraft into a guided missile.
On the morning of 9/11, the existing protocol was unsuited in every respect for what was
about to happen. What ensued was the hurried attempt to create an improvised defense by officials who had never encountered or trained against the situation they faced.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Random linkage and memage

Jennifer has to suffer stupid coworkers.

Brayden King is rereading his high school reading lists with new eyes, although this one sentence jumped out at me
Either the book is much better than I remember it or it is not nearly as good as it was contained in my memory.
Well, that pretty much covers it! He looks at Catch-22 and has some thoughts on others as well.

Joy lets her readers in on what's sexy now

And to steal a meme from Michele:

1. Where were you when you heard that Ronald Reagan died?
Checking my bank account, waiting for something to trickle down. Ok real answer, I heard it on the radio, and anticipated the endless tributes that would be made on TV.

2. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
At work, followed by an eerie trip through deserted downtown Cleveland.

3. Where were you when you heard that Princess Diana died?
Driving my rented car around Paris, chasing celebs to take photos to sell to Tabloids. I was trailing Alan Greenspan trying to get a juicy shot to sell to the Economist. Little did I know!
Actually I recall my parents were more shocked than I - that have the Royalism thing running in their veins, being old-school Canadians. And recalling that it was not so easy to get out of the 20th century (conceding no one will think of it starting on Jan 1, 2001) alive.

4. Do you remember where you were when you heard Kurt Cobain had died?
Sadly, I had just started working at a suicide prevention hotline in Washington whilst simultaneously decided to listen to, and evangelize, the musical stylings of Paul Anka.

5. Take one for The Gipper: What’s your favorite flavor of jelly bean?
Yellow dye number 5.

6. Where were you when Magic Johnson announced he was retiring from the NBA due to AIDS?
"Attending" college, but without an ear for sports. I had to look up the date.

7. Where were you when Reagan was shot?
Moping around because I'd found out Jodie Foster was gay.

8.Where were you when the Challenger exploded?
Those days they still wheeled TV's into classrooms to watch shuttle launches. I'd say "a generation lost it's innocence" but aside from being a decrepit cliche, how many times can that really happen?

9. Where were you when the 0J verdict was announced?
Trying to earn some reward money looking for the real killers.

The only good reason for Leopard skin pattern Tuxedos

...is that they would make scanning wedding photos much easier, so I don't have to remove every speck of dust that was on the picture in Photoshop.

Geekiness

Over at Etherian's Island, the question is posed:
Why is it, that when you try to install something, it is assumed by the creator of the product that you have a level of geekiness equal to theirs?
The simple answer is that it's the last thing on their minds. Installation is akin to documentation, aka, not something they are spending much energy on. They hope you'll be so impressed by the way you've handled some loop inside the program, and sometimes what the user actually needs is last on the list of things to contemplate. It's akin to an engineer designing a bridge with what he feels are the coolest techniques, without a lot of thought as to how to actually construct the thing, or how easy it will be to maintain or drive over.

Moreover, on many software projects, the three areas that slap users in their faces the most - error handling, documentation, Undo-ability - are often the most neglected by programmers, because in testing, they need these things the least. Or as someone once said "It's intuitive if you understand what I meant". Aside from project managers wearing cowboy hats, and trying to...er...inspire the team with a tale of a little league baseball team he once coached. Docs are often, unfortunately, an after the fact process tacked on. The advantage of writing some documentation before code is a method not many are willing to contemplate, as it places function over fun. But understanding how programmers think often is the key to installing and configuring obscure software, and is usually of more use than reading whatever paltry docs have been created for it....so the solution is to invest in a few programming books, stay out of the sun, reduce your social life, and embrace your inner geek.

Al-Sadr

Michael Totten writes that Al-Sadr is likely to become the "Pat Robertson of Iraq". Those of us who find Pat Robertson despicable would be hard pressed to disagree. But I don't think Al-Sadr led his insurgency in order to gain political recognition for a "traditional" career as a pol. I think perhaps he overplayed his hand, and thought the people would join him in a revolt. This is the danger of having your cronies at hand telling you everything you want to hear, I suppose. He's as likely now as ever to become violently opposed to the Iraqi government. When there are fewer US troops there, he might feel emboldened, depending on what kind of shape Iraq is in at the time. My old history teacher Len Barak's four preconditions for a successful revolution (successful from the point of view of the nutbars there, that is to say):
1. The current system must be bad, or seen to be bad.
2. You must have a plan for the future
3. You must have core of followers willing to die for the cause
4. You must be able to co-opt or overcome the army.

It worries me that we are holding on by preventing #4 right now. We can probably do nothing about #2 and #3, but can hope #1 swings back to a more pro-democracy feel, with fewer personality cults.

Daffy Taffy

Bruce Fein opines on the potential adverse affects of subtle distinctions of opinion among the Supremes - a warning he stretches the point like it's salt water taffy:
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for a five-member majority, declined to affirm the constitutionality of the Pledge, a reticence that could demoralize United States soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan risking that last full measure of devotion to protect the nation's security and religious freedom.
I'm sure our soldiers in Afghanistan were weeping in disbelief that the one of the justices did not affirm the beliefs of Bruce Fein God fearing Americans.

Anti-Moore letters

A group called Move America Forward is campaigning against Michael Moore's new move, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Said Guiney: '(Moore) is critical of what's happening right now, and there's no problem with being critical -- but his movie is not a documentary, it's a piece of propaganda.'
So that would mean there is a problem with being critical?

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech*, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

*Except for what we define as propaganda. Say, movies with James Brolin, Michael Moore Movies, milk advertising featuring the Olsen twins...

Having it both ways

The Administration seems to want to have it both ways - saying that there are "long established ties" between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but somehow acknowledge that Hussein's vile government had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Mr. Bush has said that he knows of no direct involvement by Mr. Hussein and his government in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the president has repeatedly asserted that there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, a position he stuck to on Tuesday when he was asked about Vice President Dick Cheney's statement a day earlier that Mr. Hussein had 'long-established ties with Al Qaeda.'
Mr. Bush pointed specifically on Tuesday to the presence in Iraq of Mr. Zarqawi, a Jordanian jihadist who sought help from Al Qaeda in waging the anti-American insurgency after the fall of Mr. Hussein, and who has been implicated by American intelligence officials in the killing of Nicholas Berg, the 26-year-old American who was beheaded by militants in Iraq in March.
The White House said Wednesday that there was a distinction between Mr. Bush's position and the commission's determination that Iraq did not cooperate with Al Qaeda on attacks on the United States.
I suspect they simply want to leave vague associations in people's minds that Iraq had something to do with Al Qaeda, therefore had something to do with 9/11. They hope that the great unwashed will not give a close enough read to the story to notice the difference in the two thoughts. It's a cynical ploy, of course, only offset to the extent the media highlights the spin. Although some are claiming that anyone who hates Americans are in the same, vaguely defined, worldwide conspiracy, reminds me of the many JFK conspiracy theories. Some of them try to rope in the CIA, the FBI, the mob, Cuba, and occasionally Tony Randall.

When it comes to Iraq and Al Qaeda, those who hold to such theories in the absence of evidence claim those of us who state there seems to be no credible connections are "putting our heads in the sand". However pretending details exist that do not exist, or that such details are unimportant, is one of the reasons we were vulnerable to attack in the first place. Just because our enemies are easily deluded by propaganda, it does not follow that we have to come up with our own propaganda. Part of what makes "the west" a place I prefer to live is it's adherence to scientific ideas and basing our actions on reality. Though it may be simpler to lump all enemies in one basket, it is probably not conducive to eliminating the ones posing a threat that must be dealt with now, as opposed to those nations with fuming taxi drivers that shake their fist against a democracy they know very few true things about.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Mugabe

Bob Mugabe's dictatorship continues unabated in Zimbabwe, where the government refused to meet with a UN Official. . The Official was a "special envoy for humanitarian needs", and no doubt Mr. Mugabe was busy with his committee for Anti-Humanitarian Needs.
The UN World Food Program was feeding nearly six million people almost half Zimbabwe's population at the height of last year's lean season. It is currently feeding about 650,000 a month.
The cancelled visit underscores a deepening rift between the United Nations and Zimbabwe, which says it no longer needs emergency food aid.
When even your hippy parents the UN thinks you're out of your mind - there's some trouble.

Fisking Responsibility

John Walden, A letter-writer in the PeeDee condemns...a previous letter-writer. Thus, the PeeDee gains the functionality of a low-speed USENET. He says
Pregnancy is not a punishment for sex, but it is a consequence of laziness or stupidity [This is not much of an endorsement of John's sexual competency - J]. With the myriad forms of birth control available today, the only excuse for an unwanted pregnancy is rape [I supposed instead of the fallible condoms we mortals use, John has some kind of titanium-kevlar weave model. Also, he calls rape the only excuse for unwanted pregnancy. I can see someone coming in now to his counseling office (assuming he would ever have one). 'Why are you unwantedly pregnant?' 'Raped'. 'Well....that's ok I guess'- J].

What Beight is conveniently overlooking is the fact that once pregnancy occurs, it is no longer just about a woman's 'control over her own destiny.' What about the child's right to control its destiny [I ask this every time I see a mother denying 4 year olds every piece of candy they want in the grocery store - J]?
Perhaps 'pro choice' advocates Perhaps "pro choice" advocates would make a different choice if the penalty for an unwanted pregnancy was to have their brains sucked out of their skulls while still alive. [Wasn't that in Return of the Living Dead? Oh I see, you're trying to gross us out. Good luck with that, I'm curious how it'll turn out. Could we call the execution a 'partial-life' execution? Anyway to sum up, rape is the only excuse, and we should kill pregnant women, seems to be the gist of the letter. Or at least perhaps put the names of doctors performing the procedures with addresses on the web, to be struck out if they should - Heaven forbid! - happen to be snipered.- J]

John Walden

Cleveland

Shorter PeeDee

Shorter Plain Dealer editorial on Iraq:

So you're trying to become a democracy, as opposed to a blood-drenched anarchist haven home to warlords and violence? Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out, I'm real curious.

Free the Lakeside One

Lakeside student Blake Molnar, noted for his hitting-principals-with-pie skills, is back to school (he was expelled) after writing an apology. Principal Karen Abbot said he hit her too hard, while she was the voluntary target in a school sponsored pie-throwing contest. With her previously hinting around wanting to involve the police I had feared dire consequences for young Molnar. A squirt gun firing squad at dawn perhaps. Or even the dunk chair.

Repealing a levy

Over in Cleveland Heights, some citizens want to repeal a school levy, because too many senior citizens were in Florida at the time. Lou Weinstock is organizing the effort, and mentioned the snowbird crowd is anti-tax. It's possible to interpret what he thinks - but would never say
Why educate those whippersnappers anyway? They don't need no fancy learnin' to go get a job cleaning my condo's pool in Tampa. Why when I was a kid, all they taught us was how to duck under a desk in case of nuclear attack. By the time they graduate to a life of ignorance we'll all be dead and laughing in Heaven, rolling in piles of money and playing harps. Yipee!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Free Speech

Over at 'A Small Victory' Michele has some thoughts on blacklists and CD's, and many other things:
I just really resent the implications in the comments and from some email I received that because I think Michael Moore is allowed to exercise his freedom of speech, I am therefore aiding and abetting anti-Americanism. Please tell me how an almost twenty year old copy of Beastie Boys album sitting in my CD player is doing just that?
Michele is no fan of Moore, to be sure. She reacting to a particular type of blogger who loves bashes those termed celebrities when they express views that are not the same as the aforementioned blogger. The usual well-thought out argument, if I may be permitted to summarize is "shut up!" Though I am hesitant to say that such an argument is facile, stupid and self-defeating...Let me try and understand the people Michele rightly criticizes...who I will term the "free speech for me but not for thee" crowd. The irony, which is roughly the size of a falling mountain, has not hit these people on the head while they publish their thoughts on the internet that celebs - or more precisely, celebs they disagree with - should not state their opinions. I guess it's because it gets bigger play on E!, in People, etc. So they suggest we stop going to see movies with Sean Penn, et al. I note sadly in the case of Mystic River they are probably sparing us a very uninteresting effort. It seems to a very charming argument. Let's bankrupt those whom we hate, by boycotting their products. Indeed I don't shop al Wal-Mart for various reasons. It sound fun to kick Michael Moore out of his castle, right? But I have the feeling, backed up by a little thing called all of written history, that it would not stop with the so-called "elites". I wonder why Moore is one of the elites, and the owners of Wal-Mart are not? If we're judging incomes, Ann Coulter is an elite too I suppose. But I digress.

Freedom of speech does not exist in a quasi-mythic legal status that, if not explicitly banned directly by the state, is just fine and dandy. It's a strength that makes American substantively different from most other places in the world. It's chief among the reasons I choose to wait, most patiently, to become a US citizen. I think many other immigrants, living and long dead, feel the same way. Blacklists are simply a mindless attack by those unwilling or unable to engage in battle in the world of thought. Imagine if you will, your next door neighbour making note of your statements, and reporting them to a central list, to be pored over and ruminated on. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea can go back to Russia go back to North Korea no, on second thought, go back to Russia.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Jeers and Timing

The PeeDee editors have a TV Guide-like Cheers and Jeers section (which came first? hmm), and in this one they bash a recent court ruling
JEERS . . .
to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for ruling that the Social Security Administration should pay survivor benefits to two 7-year-old Arizona girls who were conceived from frozen sperm 10 months after their father's death. This isn't the case of a parent's untimely death leaving behind two children. When Robert Netting died, there was only one survivor: Rhonda Gillett-Netting. Anyone who came along after that ought to be Rhonda's responsibility, not the government's.
So the main objection is that when Mr. Netting ceased to be, the two children did not exists - therefore, they should not get benefits. What if Mr. Netting, fresh in the throes of passion, had expired before - ehm - the eggs were fertilized? Technically, wouldn't this be the same situation? Would the government have to do interviews, scientific studies, and dare I say it, fluid dynamics studies to tell when the off-spring came into being? Aside from providing some amusing diagrams in a trial, this is superfluous. The point is whether he was the biological parent, not to when the government decides you start existing.

Illiterati

The founder of Office Max, Michael Feuer, is investing ni other things since selling Office Max to Boise. I'm sure the Ohio employees of Office Max, most of whom will be losing their jobs as the merger continues, wish him lots of luck. But one quote from the story struck me
'It's like the 'Wizard of Oz,' ' Feuer said. 'I'm the guy behind the curtain.'
He does know the Wizard was actually powerless, and achieved his fame only through bluster and fakery right? Not the best role model.

Concealed Parks

Several Ohio towns are trying to ban concealed weapons in city parks. It's in response to the recently passed concealed carry law in the state, which allows people to apply for permits and to carry concealed weapons. Let's see the usual, moronic, argument that will be trotted out in favour of banning rights they would rather no one had in the first place: "It's for the children"
Barbara Young, an Arcanum Village Council member, said she does not think the local law approved May 25 conflicts with state law. She said the village enacted the law because its main park sits next to schools.
Check. They also say that one of the places in question has "almost no violent crime". I love the "almost" part.

Of course, given that aside from strip clubs and some Cleveland area schools, children are omnipresent in the state as a whole. Including in some of my favourite restaurants, where unrestrained by parents or society, they run and scream in some great numbers. They want to ban concealed weapons anywhere, so that way they are only in the hands of criminals, the only ones with whom we desire to endow with such trusts. Perhaps the next step will be have everyone warned when someone has a concealed weapon, say by having a flagman walk 50 yards in front of you at all times, firing a red flare every 10 minutes. I humbly ask that such precautions for our safety and sanity also be applied to people carrying unconcealed children, that I might be given a chance to dine in quiet.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Cruising the main drag

Cleveland looks likely to pass an anti-cruising bill, which would make it an offense to drive past the same point three times in two hours. But as this Car & Driver article notes, it's giving police the ability to make some arbitrary calls:
Defining cruising as "unnecessary, repetitive driving," the West Bend cruising ordinance could be enforced whenever the police saw someone driving past a traffic-control point, designated anywhere on Main Street, three or more times in any two-hour period during the evening hours, as Scheunemann had. The whole thing was enforced at the whim of the witnessing officer.

The cruising ordinance specifically exempted anyone driving for a business reason. Yet despite the fact that Scheunemann was wearing his Dairy Queen uniform and swore to the officer he was on the job, the cop was skeptical. It didn't help that Scheunemann fit the stereotypical cruiser's age demographic.

"The officer's attitude was that I was trying to con him," said Scheunemann, remembering the incident nearly 14 years later. "He couldn't believe an 18-year-old was a manager at a Dairy Queen."

Ultimately, the officer let him go without a citation. But the 20-minute delay cost Scheunemann a reprimand from his boss.

More significant, what happened changed Scheunemann's attitudes and convictions. He was not a cruiser, he was apolitical, yet seeing the kind of power the cruising ordinance gave the police the power to decide whether a driver's explanation for repetitive driving was legitimate or not bothered Scheunemann deeply.
The idea that cruising is an American tradition, and that city councils nationwide are just looking to outlaw activities they don't personally like, without a great justification. With 250 cops having been laid off in Cleveland, it seem frivolous to me. I'm not legal expert, but it seems to infringe unnecessarily on freedom of movement.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Catch the ferry to Canada

So they're thinking of building a ferry crossing between Cleveland and Canada. Neat. It goes to...Port Stanley, Canada also known as place I have never heard of and will be unlikely to run to visit. The nearest city to Port Stanley of any size is London, Ontario. Time to drive according to Mapquest is 4 hours, 52 minutes. The proposed ferry will take between 4 and 4.5 hours. Then drive from Port Stanley to London, around 47 minutes. Now granted, when you drive instead of taking the ferry, there is going to be a traffic jam going across the bridge to Canada. But the time saved on the ferry (if you do, in fact, save any time) seems pretty miniscule. At $45-55 a pop, it might be a hard sell. The more obvious destinations, like Windsor are much closer by road of course. Toronto...is about 4 hours, 53 minutes. Port Stanley to Toronto is 2 hours, 36 minutes - adding that to the ferry ride makes it likely much slower to take the ferry to get to Toronto. So it looks like we'll depend on the market of people wanting to go to London, Ontario. My study was free, unlike the $400,000 study done for the Port Authority. The difference in populations means they would have to lean on Cleveland more...the full study is on Callahan's blog, linked above.

In a word, HA

Defenders of hate-monger respected local cleric Fawaz Damra have a spin on his speech
'As unquestionably hate-filled and thus morally reprehensible as such language is, when Palestinians refer to Jews as 'descended from apes and swine' or encourage support for those who 'kill Jews,' they do so with the reasonably justifiable self-image of victim and persecuted, not of victimizer and persecutor.'
Defense lawyers Larry Zukerman and Nancy Hollander argued that Alexander believes the language 'takes on an entirely different meaning' when heard by Americans who are not connected to the Mideast conflict.
It depends what the meaning of 'descended from apes and swine' is? Or that labeling humans as not-human is sometimes excusable, because of the many travesties and tragedies visited by the Jew upon Germany - oops, I mean Palestine. Propaganda apologists seek to minimize the statements that speak to those who hate Red Sea Pedestrians as much as I hate 'Hooked on Classics' - the intent is to get those of us who are horrified by such statements to stick our fingers in our ears, chanting "LA LA LA" and pretend he didn't really spew this bile.

Gay Pride Weakly praised

My local Lakewood city council voted this to be Gay Pride Week, even though it's already partially over.
In a voice vote that did not require members to make a statement, Councilmen Ryan Patrick Demro and Patrick Corrigan voted against the resolution. Five members voted yes.

Demro said last week he would not support the resolution because it honored something people do in the bedroom.
To be fair, it can also be done in the kitchen, dining room, and multimedia-family-game room-junk room. I guess that celibate homosexuals would then be more acceptable to Mr. Demro whose main concern I take to be what private citizens do to each other in rooms of their homes. I surmise that activities like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (which I am in dire need of, say some) and the Tony awards are two of the few places we could still give anything resembling honor to gays. So for those of us in favour of wider recognition of gay accomplishments in the face of adversity, like the right to not have your head caved in by the cops for going to a club, something most of us straight people have enjoyed for years. Overall, I think our elected officials need to spend less time worrying over what specifically we do to each other in our bedrooms - but wait, I haven't heard what a few veterans think:

Protesters, largely members of veterans' groups, ripped up a rainbow-hued flag in front of City Hall and later told council that flying a gay-pride flag would invite extremist groups, like Nazis, to fly their flags.

Yes, gays and Nazis, practically one and the same. The other day I think I saw Elton John invading Poland, and let's not forget the many death camps set up by the Village People.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Burning Software Rivers

Via the best portal in Ohio, Brewed Fresh Daily, George found and I stole for my BuckeyeRoll one Scott Kovatch, a software developer in Cleveland Heights, my old stomping ground. When I say "my old", I mean city where I lived from 98-03 as a pale syrup eating Canadian, not so much a native. When I say stomping ground, I mean where I walked around a great deal bemused by bohemians, skateboarders, "Jews for Jesus", and the ever present Cleveland Heights police, who eyed pedestrians with a wish they could give them speeding tickets too. Looking at some old entries [Gah! Gah! Something more then 17 hours old on a blog! Too old to look at! attention wandering...- Ed. Very Funny - J] I saw one where he wishes views of the local tech scene differentiated between Kathy Gifford-esque compu-sweatshops Consulting firms and companies that actually make computer software and hardware. Having worked for both kinds in the region I can say the consultancies were pretty miserable gigs by comparison. Aside from a lack of job security, you got the feeling the managers were out to gouge whatever hours they could from the customers, and no one had long term cares if the projects we did would say, drift aimlessly towards Lake Erie were data refuse would pile onto them until they actually caught fire, creating a tragi-comic mythos around Cleveland software that would only be alleviated by drinking. It's nice to work for a company now that actually cares a bit about it's product. Also, I note my current company, for it's commitment, is the most profitable of the places I've worked in the region. I'd like to see more like this around here, and Scott evidently shares this view...

AT & T campaign

Seth Stevenson has few kind words for AT&T's new ad campaign, featuring an ampersand:
It seemed more and more, partly just because there's little place for punctuation in modern data movers like tickers and text messages, that the firm was morphing into 'ATT.'
Well, no more. Thank goodness they've reminded us it's American Telephone AND Telegraph. Mustn't forget the highly profitable telegraph division.
The most disturbing thing to me is the vertically spliced faces. Haven't there been studies that symmetrical features are universally considered more attractive, and isn't the splitting of a face into two halves from two people going to look as off-putting as possible?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Bad is good?

Andrew Sullivan is hopeful that things are so lousy in Fallujah - where the US Marines are not - compared with outside the city - where they are - that people will see what scumbags the mujahadeen in their city are and reject them. Or they could try and throw support behind a local strongman who seems to control the thugs, which I think is the more worrisome prospect. The fact the city is overridden with crime with the Islamo-wacko's running wild is not surprising, but I don't take it as a good thing.

News that sucks

Hoover is lifting removing 1,100 jobs from the region - North East Ohio. They're restructuring and consolidating stuff to their headquarters, and since their headquarters is not here it's all going through the bristles and up the tube.

North Canton is probably too far away for Cleveland to start claiming all of our woes can be fixed with a taxpayer-funded convention center, thank the stars.

Hilarious

Rummy shared a tidbit with sailors - his wife wonders why the haven't caught Osama yet
Rumsfeld says soon after he wakes up, his wife usually asks him where Osama bin Laden is hiding.
Rumsfeld told U-S military personnel aboard the U-S-S Essex in Singapore that Joyce Rumsfeld rolls over in bed and says -- quote -- 'Where's U-B-L?.'
How precious. I wonder if she also asks him other funny questions, that make all of American laugh because they help lighten the mood like "is a nuclear bomb going to be shipped to the US in a unscanned container, and kill millions?", "is Osama still getting money from Saudis with power?", "will we have to invade North Korea to help capture Osama?"

June 4th, 1989

The Chinese thugs government sure hasn't forgotten what happened then...
Reporters saw 16 middle-aged men and women picked up Friday on the square in twos and threes and dragged to waiting police vans. Security forces had been trying to block public commemorations for people killed in the military crackdown.
The square was open to the public and hundreds of tourists with their children were strolling under a light sprinkling of rain.
Though extra guards were on duty, security was relatively light compared with other politically sensitive dates. Troops from the paramilitary People's Armed Police dozed aboard two parked buses. Security agents in civilian clothes moved among the crowds.
An Associated Press photographer was briefly detained after photographing detentions on the square, and Chinese tourists who snapped pictures were forced by police to delete them from digital cameras.
Why, they're nearly as bad as the police guarding our Supreme Court! Kidding, I
kid. Domestic politics in the US are much more easy going. If someone stood in front of a US tank to protest, they'd just post a story on Drudge that he had an affair with his gay intern. My own tasteful plans to commemorate by creating a line of tasty desserts called "Tiananmen Squares", featuring a strawberry type filling. Proceeds to go to any and all organizations that make the Chinese government as angry as Moe. Here are some related links on the Living in China webzine/blog.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Blogs bad, print good

Via the invaluable Sanity's Edge:
New magazines, which are appearing faster than books or articles, have an even worse track record. There are very few really good magazines (I'd put the number at under 100). Part of the problem is how easy it is to publish them. I have one at Ziff-Davis and I can say, without hesitation, that it stinks. Not necessarily because the writing's bad; more because of my total lack of commitment.
Indeed. Except, to be accurate, replace "magazines" with blogs, and "Ziff-Davis" with Blogger.com, and it's an accurate quote from this article in PC Magazine. Lance Ulanoff says that most blogs are not worth reading - except maybe Wonkette. I guess I fail to see the logic in saying it's too easy for too many people to publish blogs. The same argument can be applied to magazines, books, or pretty much anything except massive stone sculptures. It's not so easy to write using those. Rather than punish bad writing by say, NOT READING IT, Lance suggests the medium go away, except for some little bits he likes. At least I think that's what he's saying. Although it's written for PC Magazine, it comes across like an an aging newspaper columnist complaining about Rock and Roll. I suppose Lance would be placated if Blogs were magazines. This would involve the deforestation of, roughly, Earth. I shudder to think of the angry Greenpeacers and Maple Syrup farmers that will tear Mr. Ulanoff limb from published limb.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Contest

There's a contest over at Etherian's Island - if you win, she'll write a post for you! A warning - bribery will be involved.

Envy

Ok I've only been blogging a short while, but in that time, Kelley gets to go to Hawaii twice!?. The closest I've gotten is a picture on my mantle. It was of M_'s family visiting Hawaii. M_ her boyfriend of the time with her, who I will refer to as Not-J_. M_ kindly applied a picture of my face over top of Not-J's face, creating the illusion I was there too.
Hawaii picture

Carnival of the Canucks!

Jen has the Carnival of the Canucks #20! A wide assortment of Canadian-made blog postings....

Via the aforementioned Carnival, I learned that Tim Horton's is beating the crap out of Krispy Kreme. But of course! My brother D_ (the one who is really good at hockey) will be happy to hear his employer is triumphant.

Ben at Bookslut

Guest-blogger Ben Brown is doing a nice job over at Bookslut:
Ask anyone who seriously studied Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and then wrote their thesis up, and they'll tell you that the one BBS it got hosted on went down in 1985 and hasn't come back, even though they plaintively dial the number every night at 10:30, which is when the BBS used to go up from the basement of the guy's parent's house, and that they wish someone would get back to them because they want a copy of the cool ANSI art they used as an illustration.
That reminds me, there a BBS I haven't checked on for a while, maybe it's back up...

One foot in the closet

Here in Lakewood, Ohio, city council is mulling a gay pride week. Last year they had a month. Perhaps my town is a little bit less gay this year. Fewer Liza Minelli visits may be to blame. One brave councilperson is taking a stand:
Councilman Ryan Patrick Demro said he would abstain from voting on the resolution to guarantee that gays and lesbians could not say he voted against the measure.
Well, I suppose it's not so much a stand as it is a stand back in the shadows where no one can see if he's angry or pleased. Ordinary citizens had their say too:
Jerry Murphy, leader of a military veterans group that participated in last year's protests, said he would mobilize members to object to any kind of gay-pride resolution.
'They have the right to remain silent,' he said.
Now there's a good understanding of the rights of free peoples. Still he is a veteran, which of course gives him the right to say who has what rights. If there's one thing Mr. Murphy fought for, it's the freedom to stop freedoms.

Enemies of our Enemies?

Saeed Haider wonders lack of subtle political distinctions of mass-murdering terrorists
On the contrary, the seven Indians who were killed inside the compound belonged to a country which was among the first to accord recognition to the state of Palestine. Not only this, India also expressed its concern over the American invasion of Iraq and refused to send "peace-keeping" forces to Baghdad. Why, then, were the Indians targeted?
Perhaps they're bloodthirsty maniacs, using religion as an excuse to kill anyone they don't like? Maybe we don't gain anything by trying to comprehend their motives in order to dissuade them from killing the appropriate people? They don't care if countries recognize Palestine, or if the US elects Bush, Kerry, Nader, or Ann Coulter's fact-checker.

Missing the Suicide Bombers

What's missing from this brain-dead editorial from the Hindu, denouncing Israeli "war-crimes"? Any mention of why the Israeli's are bulldozing homes, or a single sentence or phrase about the endless suicide attacks inflicted upon Israelis and others, and the bloody carnage that resulted. Apparently if a Jew dies, it makes no impact to the unnamed editorialist in the Hindu paper.

Immigration forms online

The USCIS is expanding the number of forms we immigrants can file online. To anyone who has faced the endless waiting on the few open kiosks at Immigration offices, or interminable months waiting on mailed applications, it seems like a good sign.
The six new forms and petitions now available online include:
Employment-based Petition for Non-immigrant Worker (Form I-129);
Travel documents (Form I-131);
Employment-based Petition for Immigrant Worker (Form I-140);
Changing or extending Non-immigrant status (Form I-539);
Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821); and
Premium Processing (Form I-907).
When USCIS initiated E-Filing last year, it began with the application for Replacement of Permanent Resident Cards (“green cards”) (Form I-90) and for Employment Authorization Documents (Form I-765).
As long as someone is reading these applications, it's definitely a step forward. It seems as though the INS was one department that was mired in 60's-70's era thinking with endless forms and repetition of entries. For example when I filled out my biographical info sheet - aside from leaving no space for me to detail the exciting times at band camp - I had to list every address I lived and worked at in the last five years. Then I got to repeat that exact info on three duplicate sheets. Electronic filing may help reduce this kind of insanity.

Chalabi passed on code info?

The NY Times is reporting that Ahmad Chalabi passed on the fact the US had broker one of Iran's secret codes. Iran has one of the more formidable opposing intelligence services in the MidEast. For those trying to compare the Iraq conflict to WWII, one has to stop and consider - one of the keys to the war was breaking the Nazi Enigma code. But the real prize was not letting them know it was broken, so we could continue to intercept messages. This is happening at the same time we could really use information on Iran. Why was any official from the US passing information like this to Chalabi at all? If he was drunk, he needs to at least be fired for for incompetence, if not tried for treason. It makes me think that the administration does not see the game of international spying as serious, but just another realm of domestic politics. They hoped Chalabi would mean they would not have to do as much heavy lifting in remaking the region. No mater what party you feel loyalty to here, if you have any affection at all for you own country it's impossible to see this code giveaway as anything but despicable and unacceptable.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Biased movies

In light of the...ehm...."biased" film "The Day After tomorrow" it's only fair to think of what other films are biased and inaccurate:

Red Dawn - In retrospect, Cuban/Nicaraguan/Russian invasion of mainland US not too likely

Escape from New York - Even in 1988, NY was not quite that bad. Except for the hair.

Better off Dead - Most teens do not have this many unsuccessful suicide attempts, and many are far less funny than portrayed in this film.

E.T. - It's unlikely that aliens have visited us. The odds of them liking chocolate are even slimmer.

Brewster's Millions - A few jumbo jet plane rentals would have solved his dilemma.

Sneakers - A computer expert doubts a woman's story that she was matched by a computer dating service to a man, because it wouldn't make that much of a mismatch? HA!

Troy - To be realistic, movie should have been 10 years long.

Dogma - The Catholic Church is not replacing Crucifixes with "Buddy Christ".

The World According to Garp - No person with the senses of sight or hearing could possibly, even for a second, mistake John Lithgow for a woman.

Roger & Me - Far fewer people than you think selling rabbits for Pets or Meat in Flint, MI.

Looking for the next gas station

The latest National Geographic has a cover story on what they term the end of cheap oil (full article in print mag)
Humanity's way of life is on a collision course with geology with the stark fact that the Earth holds a finite supply of oil. The flood of crude from fields around the world will ultimately top out, then dwindle. It could be 5 years from now or 30: No one knows for sure, and geologists and economists are embroiled in debate about just when the 'oil peak' will be upon us. But few doubt that it is coming. 'In our lifetime,' says economist Robert K. Kaufmann of Boston University, who is 46, 'we will have to deal with a peak in the supply of cheap oil.'
I always knew the supply was finite, but I didn't think we'd see the cheap sources of go-juice tapped out while I am (odds are) still alive. Since Cheney doesn't think we need to conserver, I assume he's not worried because the big trouble won't hit in his lifetime - going by average lifespan stats. Scarier is the photo in the print mag showing just how much stuff in a probably typical house is dependent on hydrocarbons - that is to be exact, relatively cheap hydrocarbons.

Empty runs?

Over at Rittenhouse, there's a link to a report by Philly Inquirer scribe Seth Borenstein that Halliburton had trucks make round-trip empty runs in Iraq, and billed the Army. (That's you and me, via our taxes). The Army and Halliburton’s trucking company deny round-trip empty trips were made, however. In the real trucking industry here in the US, the emphasis is on making as few empty moves as possible. Often such moves are not billable to customers, so dispatchers work hard on logistical planning to insure the absolute minimum empty moves by trucks. Companies that attempted to bill clients for round-trip empties are also known as "out of business". The drivers don't sound like they appreciate the empty moves:
Thor, a driver who quit KBR and who got his nickname for using a hammer to fight off a knife-wielding Iraqi trying to climb into the cab of his truck, said his doctor recently told him he might lose the use of his right eye after a December attack. Iraqis shattered his windshield with gunfire. Glass got in his eye, and he broke two bones in his shoulder, he said.

His truck was empty at the time.

"I thought, 'What good is this?' " said Thor, who asked not to be identified further.
For those who would argue we should leave such practices be...I must ask, why do you hate capitalism?

Free Net?

Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe's loss of sanity is increasing - he wants to control all Internet traffic in and out of his country, presumably to suppress dissent. Entrepreneurs should take note, as many companies before have had no problem helping such bastions of Freedom as China keeps information from it's own people. Speaking of the same, exactly what such tech giants as Cisco and Microsoft did for China is not clear. If it was no more than sell their standard products, one would think they would have said so. Anyway, unless there's a major shakeup in Zimbabwe people there can likely look forward to less information from the net.

Canadian politics

Up in Canada, an election looms. The Liberals, in power since 1993, may (or may not) be on the verge of a defeat. The newly minted Conservative party might be able to unseat them by forming a minority government. But their campaign would be DOA if it was felt they were going to start rolling back abortion rights, which is what their health critic said they would do. The Conservative Party leader isbusily backpedaling from a stance that would likely spell defeat in the general election.
Mr. Harper suggested Mr. Merrifield went slightly "off message" on the party platform by suggesting that women get counseling before abortions

"A leader of a party can go off message, I suppose any member of a party can. We know it's a sensitive issue...and I urge people caution in an election campaign about what they want to communicate to the public in terms of party position," he said, in what appeared to be a warning to his health critic.
This kind of snapping back of your own party members has a double meaning. One is to assure Canadians that they won't roll back abortion rights. The other is to the member in question, who is being told not to say what he really thinks. At least until they are in power, one would think.

Meryl is climbing, Canadians are digging

The always talented Meryl Yourish is apparently recovering from a health scare, and climbing all over the place. She came down with the problem whilst among the uninsured in the US. This can be a sometimes fatal - both ways - blow to those who come down with catastrophic medical needs. Which is one reason Kerry's recent plan to have society as a whole look after medical costs when they skyrocket to certain levels appealed to me a bit. My US boss asked if M_ and me planned to one day retire to Canada with all the socialized medicine. However having not lived in Canada on a regular basis since 1998, I'm not convinced how much socialized medicine I "earned". Conversely, I was never pleased with paying social security when I was a non-immigrant, and thus giving up money I really would see again (as opposed to most taxpayers who give it up and probably will not see it again). I'm not too sure I'll ever retire, but M_ opined she thought Halifax looked like a nice city. She suggested we might have a seasonal home there. This would be considerably closer to my parents in the bustling metropolis of Truro, Nova Scotia.

Recently the two retirees came down for a "vacation". By vacation, I mean of course they worked like indentured servants by ripping up soil and planting. We left about 30-35 thirty-gallon bags of yard waste from that endeavor. However, the gardens actually appear more garden like, and less nice-idea-not-maintained (aka the Afghanistan of Gardens). But they truly enjoyed it. It was not something we would have hired someone for; lest officials in immigration think it's one of those deportable Romanian grandmother situations. Having observed all the gardening work though, I have concluded that working is less work than retirement. Perhaps they work themselves to abandon knowing the health care back home is free. But moving there to get health care when old seems fraught with potential difficulties, immigration complexities being what they are. The solution is to get neither sick nor old.

I'm your private screener, a screener for money, do what ya want me to do...

Looks like they may re-privatize airport screeners in the US in November
The law creating TSA gave airports the choice of returning to privately employed screeners to check passengers and bags as of Nov. 19.
An estimated 100 airports, out of 445 with TSA screeners, already have expressed interest in taking advantage of that option this fall.
Some think that would be better for fliers. Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, expects contractors to put 'more focus on customer service and civility.'
I hate to suggest interfering in free markets, but a return to the days of having our lives protected by the lowest bidder is not, in my mind, the best plan. Airplane security does not affect just people on the planes either; as we know all too well. I suppose they think that by "reducing the size of government" will automatically generate benefits to us all. But if the minimum wagers they get screening the airports let through more terrorists, the economic impact will be severe, even ignoring the potential human cost. Some things are important enough that society must look after it directly, and I think airplanes are one of those areas calling for a solution not dictated by cost alone.

Homeless in Toronto

It's hard to argue Toronto doesn't treat the homeless well
After they were evicted, Luke and his girlfriend finally accepted help. The city put them up for a night or two in the downtown Howard Johnson's ($99 a night), because, unlike shelters, it allows pets. A housing worker found them an apartment (dogs allowed) for $650 a month. (No word on whether Luke's girlfriend was allowed to keep her two pet rats.) Someone is driving them around to help them find free furniture, and they'll get a cheque to cover their first and last months' rent. They'll each get welfare of $520 a month, which, let's face it, is not a lot. On the other hand, you might wonder if able-bodied young adults ought to be eligible for welfare at all.
So you can get an apartment and furniture for free, and I've been working like a sucker.