June 30, 2006

Never Pass Up A Chance to Meet Your Fellow Bloggers

Last night some New England area bloggers got together for dinner and conversation in what is becoming a monthly event. As usual, put some bloggers together and the conversation is incredible. Solomonia does all the slog work of emailing and setting up time and place - wonderful job he does too. Also attending were Sissy Willis and her wonderful husband Tuck, Harry Forbes, Richard Landes, Miss Kelly, neo-neocon, and New England Republican. Missing from last month's meet-up Tom Bowler (you would have enjoyed it tremendously) . As a surprise guest Jeff Jacoby columnist for the Boston Globe managed to stop by for a bit. (now I'm wondering if I put Jeff under - bloggers I have met... since I met him at a blog meet - details, details). An incredibly knowledgeable group. Puts my little bit of, throw a post out there, to shame. As usual with any blog gathering, there are a couple of bloggers I didn't get too much chance to talk to because of table seating, so I'm hoping that next time...

If you are a New England area blogger and don't mind driving into the Boston area for dinner and conversation, drop Sol an email and he'll include you in the list.

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June 29, 2006

When In Doubt - Make Up An Answer

Instapundit was blogging about trying to reach Verizon when his credit card expired:

...My wireless card has a phone number, but I don't know what it is, and can't seem to find it via the application screen, and the technical support number requires me to enter the phone number before I can get past it to ask how to . . . find the phone number.

I've had similar things happen at various times. Being the conscientious person that I am, I diligently go through entering numbers as they are requested - only to end up repeating the entire thing once I have a real person on the line. So why did I have to enter it in the first place?

Just recently I had a phone call from an insurance company. They left a message for one of their customers stating that they needed information pertinent to processing a claim. Unfortunately, they had the wrong number. So, I decided to call the company and let them know they had contacted the wrong person. (I've been stuck waiting for claims to be processed - didn't want to leave some other poor soul hanging because the insurance place had the wrong number).

I call the return number - having in hand the first name of the person (the last name was garbled) and the 12 digit claim number that was left in the message. Only to end up in Answering System hell. I would have given up, but I figured I would continue to receive calls - since it was an automated system that called to leave the original message. This means the computer would simply redial me in a few days.

I go through the various - press 1 for this press 2 for that, enter the 12 digit claim number... enter the BIRTH DATE!!! What? I don't know the birth date! How can I enter a birth date for a person I don't know?

Thinking I must have missed a cue to get a real person without all that hassle, I hang up and redial. *sigh* Nope there is no way around this one. So, when I got to the part where it asked for the birth date - I made it up. They had an example in their spiel of how to enter it - so I made it up - used the Jan 1, 1960 date, the same as the example.

Finally I get a real person. I tell her the story and she seems almost reluctant to believe that they could have a wrong number. She asked me the name of the person and all I could tell her was the first name. I was rather annoyed, it's not like it's my fault they have the wrong number. If I call especially to tell you that you've gotten hold of the wrong party and I go through all that work to get through - you better be thanking me for letting you know there's a problem, not questioning whether or not I know what I'm talking about!

As for Glenn and his issue - he finally resolved it - Yay! I'm thinking he could have just entered his home phone number and worked it all out once he had a person on the line. It might not work, but it's worth a try.

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VA Laptop Recovered

The laptop with the 26 million or so names that went missing from the house of a Veteran Affairs Employee, has been recovered.

June 29, 2006 (Computerworld) -- A missing laptop and hard disk containing personal data on over 26.5 million veterans has been recovered, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson announced this morning.

"The investigation continues to see whether or not this information has been compromised in any way," or whether copies of the data have been made, Nicholson said just before a scheduled hearing before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. He later said that initial FBI forensics tests indicate the data on the laptop and disk has not been improperly accessed.

This is excellent news, especially if they are correct and can determine that none of the information was copied or accessed improperly. This doesn't mean the VA can go back to business as usual, but this will take a great weight off the shoulders of millions of our veterans.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 07:22 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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June 28, 2006

Inside The Boston Globe

Harry of Squaring the Boston Globe, recently had a chance to have a tour of the Boston Globe facility and see part of the workings behind the scenes. It's very interesting, with information that everyone should know.

Head over there and check it out. You may be surprised by the way things are done. It also makes me wonder about the reporters working on news stories and the parallels or not between hard news and op-ed.

Posted by: Teresa in Current Affairs at 05:53 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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June 27, 2006

I Should Be Dead...

Please note at the outset - I am not a smoker nor is my husband - I live in a smoke free environment.

Once again the nannies are at it. Second hand smoke will kill you! Do you doubt this? Then you didn't hear about the Surgeon General's newest panic campaign.

Secondhand Smoke a Threat to All, Surgeon General Warns

Some 126 million Americans are still exposed to secondhand smoke. The risks are well documented and include heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults as well as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children. Slightly more than 20 percent of children are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.

"Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can damage cells and set the cancer process in motion," Carmona said. "Brief exposure can have immediate harmful effects on blood and blood vessels, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack. Secondhand smoke exposure can quickly irritate the lungs, or trigger an asthma attack. For some people, these rapid effects can be life-threatening. People who already have heart disease or respiratory conditions are at especially high risk," he added.

Yes, I should be very VERY dead. I grew up in a smoker household. My father has smoked since he joined the Air Force during WW2 - of course he's now 82 and continues to smoke, which means it will likely kill him off very soon now. As for me - I had smoke in the house prenatally and as a child - I went to restaurants that allowed smoking, I went to theaters that allowed smoking, I went to stores that allowed smoking, my father smoked in the car. All that second hand smoke... death awaits in the near future. For that matter - death awaits nearly every baby-boomer. All the post-war children who grew up in houses full of smoke.

How is it that any of us are still alive?

According to the report, nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. In 2005, an estimated 3,000 adult nonsmokers died from lung cancer as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke, 46,000 from coronary heart disease and 430 newborns from SIDS.

Ah once again with the statistics. What I want to know is how they know these people all got lung cancer or heart disease from passive smoke? Did each of them live constantly around smoke filled rooms? Did they all just whiff a bit of smoke walking into or out of a building and now they're dead? These people had not one single other factor in their lives that caused these diseases? Family history, diet, area of the country where they live, jobs they've held - do these all mean nothing - it's only the second hand cigarette smoke they've inhaled that caused them to die?

As for SIDS - the sickening thing about this one is - they have NO IDEA - ABSOLUTELY NONE of what causes SIDS. Period. What a horrible horrible thing to do to parents who have lost an infant in that manner - to tell them that they caused the death - when there is no proof of it.

So what's the deal with this big push suddenly about smoking? All of these studies - for better or worse (and unless you want to slog through the report and go check on the studies they cite - which would mean lots and lots of library time) have been out there a long time. Many of them have been shown to employ very bad science. What is this new effort? I have a feeling I know since this is not the first smoking article I've seen in the last week or so.

I had a friend send this out to an email list I'm on.

Parents' cigarette smoke harms kids for years

NEW YORK - A new international study of more than 20,000 children confirms that exposure to cigarette smoke before and after birth impairs their lung function, and that parental smoking remains a serious public health issue.

Of course they don't give a link to the actual study itself, so we just have to take the word of the writer that this was a well done study. I can hear some of you now tsking away at me wanting to tell me I should believe these people. The same people who tell you one moment that eggs are good, then they're bad, milk is good, then it's bad, coffee is bad, now it's good, wine is bad, now it's good. They don't exactly have the best of all track records when it comes to predicting what's good and bad for our health.

It seems to me though from what I'm reading in both of these articles there is a movement underway to make people believe that home monitoring for cigarette smoke would be a good thing. Don't believe it? Just look at the not so subtle (let me beat you over the head with it) anguish to protect "the children".

From the first article:

Such statements are likely to fuel legislative efforts to ban smoking indoors.

And this one from the second article...

The findings are a “stark reminder” that legal efforts to reduce exposure to cigarette smoke in workplaces aren’t protecting the group of people at greatest risk from passive smoking, young children, Drs. Mark D. Eisner of the University of California, San Francisco and Francesco Forastiere of the Rome E Health Authority in Italy write in an editorial accompanying the study.

“Children are primarily exposed to tobacco smoke in the home, where legal restrictions do not apply,” they note.

And if you don't want people to be smoking indoors, how do you prevent it? You must put in some sort of monitor that will go off if there is cigarette smoke present. Just like in airplanes. It would start in apartment buildings, then be spread to townhouses, and last of all to individual residences. The monitor would initially be noise only, but eventually small cameras could be installed - just to watch the worst offenders... Let's not forget cars - they will start selling them with monitors - any cigarette smoke will cause the car to immediately stall.

Why not just make smoking illegal? They might as well go ahead and do it - that's what they want. They can instantly make millions of people criminals. After all - they are telling parents who smoke that they are akin to murderers.

Why do I think this is such an incredible farce?

It is difficult to tell, Neuberger noted, whether the impairment of lung function resulting from prenatal and early life exposure is permanent, given that many individuals with parents and siblings who smoke will have started smoking themselves by their teen years.

This is such an egregious lie I can barely believe they could print it with a straight face. There are literally MILLIONS of adults who grew up with parents who were smokers - prenatal through the growing up years. These children did not become smokers which means they have a cornucopia of people to run their studies on. I happen to be one of those people, so I know we're out here. If they can't find us, it's because they aren't looking.

My bet is - they found there was no lasting impairment for kids who didn't become smokers after a certain age. It's just so easy for them to say - well, gee we just couldn't find enough people to study.

Be very careful when you hear something like this. Chances are very good the government and the do-gooders are looking for yet another way to control your life. Once they're done with cigarettes, they'll be on to something else like your diet. Big Brother always wants to be breathing down your neck - for your own good and for "the children" - especially if it gets them extra cash and lets them tell you how you should live.

Oh yeah, and last of all - we have this little gem coming out of Australia's today...

A team of Sydney researchers tracked 600 children from birth to age 5 to test whether avoiding dust mites in the home had any benefits.

"Basically, there wasn't any reduction in the risk of allergic disease or asthma, which was unexpected," said Dr Guy Marks, a researcher at Sydney's Woolcock Institute.

My, My, My - all that conventional wisdom about dust mites - maybe it's not true after all... but how do we know? This study could be wrong too.

Next week I'm expecting the release of a new study showing that dust mites cause heart disease in "the children" who are exposed to unlit cigarettes carried by a person passing them in the grocery store.

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June 26, 2006

Acidman

I've not been a reader of Gut Rumbles, but I see via Oddybobo that Acidman has passed away.

Rest in Peace Rob. My condolences to your family and friends.

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Can I Have A Lollipop Please?

If you haven't seen the blog storm today, you may have missed the fact that Bill Keller executive editor of the NYT, has been defending his decision to publish national security strategies for our enemies to peruse at their leisure.

There has been a complete fisking of this by Hugh Hewitt. Even Glenn Reynolds, who seldom writes more than a line or two about most news items, has much to say to Keller.

One thing I noted while reading this letter to the readers was the extremely condescending nature of the entire thing. It makes one feel like "benevolent dad explains patiently to uninformed tot why this is a good thing". Take for instance this

Forgive me, I know this is pretty elementary stuff — but it's the kind of elementary context that sometimes gets lost in the heat of strong disagreements.

Being the incredibly stupid and gullible children we are, he needs to go back to a grade school level to make his excuses intelligible. To tell us why it's okay to publish national security secrets so everyone (including the enemy) knows what's happening. How could we be stupid enough to think that some national security secrets can be beneficial. Obviously, every move the Administration makes in regard to fighting this war should be on the front page of the paper before we do it. Why doesn't he just publish troop locations, tactics, and movements? How about putting blueprints of major building on the front page. Not to mention printing the pictures, names, and addresses of informants. It's all good information that we as Americans should know... right?

Ah, but we are informed that - it's okay to publish national security secrets, no real harm comes of it...

By the way, we heard similar arguments against publishing last year's reporting on the NSA eavesdropping program. We were told then that our article would mean the death of that program. We were told that telecommunications companies would — if the public knew what they were doing — withdraw their cooperation.

That's right, they've done it before, and we must understand that no bad things have come from this disclosure. [BTW how does he know this?] The ensuing logic from this train of thought: this means every program they find can now be published for all to see because there are no noticeable consequences.

Then there is the supposedly wishy washy response from the White House officials in regard to the reasons not to publish.

A secondary argument against publishing the banking story was that publication would lead terrorists to change tactics. But that argument was made in a half-hearted way.

But via Gateway Pundit we have a link to President Bush telling the world in no uncertain terms that this is damaging. He doesn't sound the least bit wishy washy or half-hearted to me.

I could understand the zealousness if there had been laws broken. This is not the case. From what I can see, the NYT had no just cause to publish.

I do not appreciate having the NYT undermining our national security. I am not a 4 year old, I do not need Bill Keller to explain "elementary" issues to me. What I need is for him to give me an unexceptional reason why this needed to be published. How this is going to help our country. How this helps move forward the war on terror. I don't see it.

Keep your lollipops and head pats Bill - I don't want them.

Posted by: Teresa in Current Affairs at 08:47 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Perhaps It's Guarded By A Forcefield

Over the weekend we were invited to the neighbor's house for an afternoon BBQ. Naturally conversation covered a wide array of topics, but one woman said something that made my mouth drop open. (I think it was the manner in which it was belligerently presented.)

We were talking about really bad drivers, people who do idiotic things like stop in the middle of a road for no particular reason. Suddenly she says, "Well, when I'm in a crosswalk, drivers HAVE TO stop for me. If I step out between those lines, I don't care if the light is red or green, the cars have to stop."

All I could think of was... how have you made it this far in life without some driver killing you? Did crosswalks suddenly develop some magical way of ensuring that cars stop? Holy smokes!

Legally, yes, cars "should" stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. However, the rational part of my mind, that has seen these same drivers on the road, doesn't trust them an inch. I know they aren't paying attention. I know they will be wrong if they hit me. I know even better, even if they are in the wrong, will hurt ME far more than it will ever hurt them. And no amount of cash settlement (providing you can even get one) will compensate for the injuries it is possible to incur.

I've got to think she's either very very lucky or she's more careful than she sounded when she's crossing a street. Because last time I checked, the only thing that would stop a car at a crosswalk is its own brakes. There's such a thing as being "dead right".

Posted by: Teresa in Ummmmm at 05:01 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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June 23, 2006

If I Ever Had To Leave

If someone were to tell me tomorrow I had to leave the US - pack my bags and go anywhere else. Australia would be my choice.

Charles Krauthammer hits the high points here. Grubs are involved. As are direct phone calls to the Prime Minister.

What a fabulous country.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 10:05 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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Will Mayor Daley Blast the NYT?

Yesterday we had huge breaking news. Seven men were arrested in Miami, accused of plotting to, among other things, attack the Sears Tower in Chicago.

WASHINGTON -- FBI agents in an undercover sting operation arrested seven terrorism suspects in Miami on Thursday who allegedly were plotting to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago, the FBI headquarters in Miami and other U.S. buildings, officials said.

...

The 110-story Sears Tower is the nation's tallest building. Security was ramped up after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 103rd-floor Skydeck was closed for about a month and a half.

Well, this attack was stopped, the right people found out the right information before these men were able to implement any of their plans. Lives were saved. Amazing how that works.

On the same day, the vaunted NYT printed a story that essentially blew the cover off a legal classified surveillance program.

From the NY Sun

The Times report, which appears in today's editions and was posted last evening on the paper's Web site, details the federal government's use of subpoenas to gather large troves of data from a Belgium-based consortium that handles international bank transfers, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as Swift.

Reaction so far? Instapundit has a number of links as does Pajamas Media.

As I said in response to Laughing Wolf's post over at Blackfive. There should be quite a few people arrested and charged for this story. The reporter(s), editor(s), and the leaker - since they had to get the info from someone. The damage to national security endangers everyone.

Note to the NYT and it's subsidiaries. If you receive a terrorist threat to any of your properties or people, what kind of response do you expect from the those responsible for fighting terror? Do you think you're immune from these people? Obviously you think the whole WOT is a farce not to be taken seriously. So, if you do find yourself on the receiving end of a threat, just print it on the front page - I'm sure that will protect you. I have no interest in putting any other anti-terrorist programs in danger to feed your egos.

Posted by: Teresa in Current Affairs at 06:07 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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