Headline of the day

July 30, 2008

From Don Asmussen the Bad Reporter at SFGate.com:


“It was my choice”—Mole claims it left to spend more time with family


Please remain seated

July 22, 2008

Bill in Portland Maine just got back from Austin Texas and brought back a handy rule of thumb for airline travelers:

Travel tip: The shorter an airline pilot’s turbulence message is, the worse the turbulence will be. If he turns on the Fasten Seat Belt sign and simply says, “Flight attendants take your seats,” it would be a good time to put your affairs in order.

Fighting to keep you ignorant

July 17, 2008

Some people—okay, mostly Republicans—keep pushing for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It probably won’t help, and Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Boyda explains part of the reason why:

As I write this, there are 68 million acres of publicly leased lands available for drilling that are not being drilled. 80 percent of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is already open for drilling. Today, these leases are in place; the environmental hurdles have been cleared, but no drilling is happening. The American people want to know why. So do I.

It is Big Oil’s dirty little secret – they don’t have the equipment necessary to do more drilling. If we opened up the remaining 20 percent of offshore areas for drilling, there won’t be new rigs available to drill in those areas for years! According to the American Petroleum Institute, in a time of increasing demand and high profits, the oil companies have not been growing their stock of drilling equipment even for the lands they currently have leases for! Unbelievable.

Some people apparently don’t want to talk about this, preferring to cloud the energy issue with a debate about the merits of using federal power to preserve wildlife and habitat. And while that debate is going on, the oil companies can continue to make obscene amounts of profit at the expense of everybody else. Boyda continues:

My mom always taught me to clean my plate before asking for more. The oil companies aren’t following mom’s advice. They have been collecting lease after lease but not drilling on those lands. It is time that drilling started. The high price of oil helps the oil companies and maybe this is a good business decision for them, but its killing American families, businesses and farmers.

Congress can’t force the oil companies to drill, but we can pass legislation that stops hoarding of oil leases on federal lands. I voted to do just that three weeks ago, but like other important energy bills, it is opposed by the President.

It’s strange how some of this never gets mentioned by the major news sources. It’s like everybody’s conspiring to keep us all ignorant. I’m not saying they ARE conspiring, only that things seem to be working out just as if they were.

Online acrimony? Why, the very idea!

July 1, 2008

There’s no guiltier pleasure than a good internet dust-up/feud/dogfight, and there’s a doozy going on right now involving BoingBoing, one of the better-known online time sinks. In true internet fashion, nobody knows what really happened but everybody has an opinion about it, and BoingBoing finally decided that keeping quiet about it was less and less of a constructive strategy.

That Violet Blue thing

Bottom line is that those posts (not “more than 100 posts,” as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It’s our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn’t attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There’s a big difference between that and censorship.


This is a directory of wonderful things. If we no longer think
something is wonderful, we have every right to remove it from this

The whole statement sounds as carefully parsed and worded as the average White House press release, but never mind that. Here’s why this whole matter fails the smell test for me: “I had the right to do that” is just about the lowest standard of conduct possible, even when it’s true. Dip below that and you’re left with no standard at all. It’s the next level of ethics right above “I did that because I wanted to.”

The other troublesome thing is that the purged messages were removed for reasons other than their content, which is not the most free-speechy, open-sourcey thing I’ve ever heard of.

Anyway, I’m hoping this will blow up bigger and nastier, and consequently more entertaining. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but some of my favorite dogs could easily get mixed up in it. Get the popcorn ready.