what i would like in 2006

i would like a new governor for the state of california and fewer bush republicans in congress. i was flipping through some blog feeds tonight getting ready to go to sleep and ran across david mamet’s favorite memory of 2005, the speech warren beatty gave to the california nurse’s association. after watching it just now, i find myself thinking, why not warren beatty for governor next year? he’s genuinely intelligent and knowledgable about politics and government, which is more than can be said for schwarzenegger. he’s an engaging public speaker.
by november of next year, i think the people of this state are going to realize that the gray davis recall was a ginormous blunder. (well it was also an extremely well-financed political smear campaign as well, so the people of the state of california can rest assured that their votes were paid for handsomely). we are going to need someone who can run against the muscles from brussels (oh sorry, that’s van damme…different he-man actor) and the well-coffered slick rightwing political machine.

yeah. why not warren beatty? the politicos on the other side have been trying to smear him in their typical fashion: calling him a “crackpot”. watch the speech and tell me if you don’t think he would make a good gubernatorial candidate.

snappier performance at erichaller.com

i just switched from the stats package i was using, bbclone, to google analytics. bbclone stores its data in flat files, and it was causing the site to load slow and the php scripts were running out of memory. this was kind of in the back of my mind for a while, but lately there have been really crappy pageloads happening, i think when the version of php was upgraded on the server it became very bad. hopefully now the site will be a real barnburner!

world of warcraft censorship?

my friend danny created a character named impeachbush on the malfurion server in world of warcraft about a month ago. last night a gamemaster messaged him to inform him that his name violated the terms of the game. he kicked the character off the server, and when danny went to log back in he was forced into a name change menu. i can’t seem to find anything in blizzard’s code of conduct that would forbid the name “impeachbush”. is this truly an example of offensive speech?

bogus dvds being sold by studios

a few months ago i rented an old favorite movie from netflix, where the buffalo roam. in the opening scene, bill murray playing hunter thompson is wrestling with writer’s block, a bottle of wild turkey, a mojo wire, doberman, and a very large sidearm. when the gunsmoke has cleared and the barking subsides, murray lights a doobie, inhales, spins around to the turntable and drops the needle on….some fucking song i’ve never heard before that sounds extremely cheesy. in the theatrical release, it was a memorable moment: bob dylan’s highway 61 revisited (that’s a link to the itunes store preview in case you don’t remember the song). the song set up the movie. it set the tone, it was an emotional driving force. owing to a music rights clearance issue (not enough money in the dvd release budget i imagine), that song was no longer in the movie, replaced by something that didn’t belong there. (it may have been a good song, i don’t remember because i was shocked and pissed at how different the experience was).
today i read that the problem is fairly widespread. if distributors can’t secure the music rights to movies and tv shows (and music publishers should be willing to negotiate, because some revenue is better than none) then they shouldn’t release them. the soundtrack is an integral part of most filmed entertainment, and replacing the original songs with less expensive alternative choices is a very very bad idea. well, any time that an MBA bean counter starts making creative decisions, it is a bad idea, and when it tampers with people’s memories of movies and shows, it will alienate consumers. and when consumers are alienated, they stop buying.
perhaps  the fbi should be called in to investigate THESE counterfeit dvds.

christmas is over, back to business

i was surfing around tonight after i woke from an hourlong turkey-induced coma, and ran into a petition form to the EPA. they are proposing rule changes to the toxics release inventory reporting requirements for businesses handling toxic chemicals, and given the current administration i’m sure you can guess the rule changes aren’t going to strengthen safeguards for public health.
they are moving to relax the reporting requirements and this Q&A from the EPA site pretty much says it all:

Q: Who will benefit from this rule?

A:
Facilities that report low amounts of chemicals to TRI will benefit
from this rule by being allowed to use the shorter Form A, thus
reducing their reporting burden. The Form A is easier to complete than
the longer Form R because there are fewer information fields to
complete and fewer mathematical calculations to perform.

this will make it easier for companies to report less information about their handling and release of chemicals, including PBTs (persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals). you know, the ones that once they get in your system stay there. they have extended the deadline until january 13 for the public to comment on the proposed rule changes, so head over to the epa site or the other link above (which opposes the changes on the grounds of an investor’s group right-to-know)

here’s a little more on the changes:

According to OMBWatch, the EPA rule changes would: “move from the current annual reporting requirement to every other year reporting for all facilities, eliminating half of all TRI data; allow companies to release ten times as much pollution before being required to report the details of how much toxic pollution was produced and where it went; and permit facilities to withhold information on low-level production of persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs), including lead and mercury, which are dangerous even in very small quantities because they are toxic, persist in the environment, and build up in people’s bodies.”

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merry christmas

i just jogged around ojai, through the avocado and orange orchards, in balmy 80 degree southern california weather. now i’m chillaxin on the couch, enjoying the aromas of mom’s cooking floating in from the kitchen. and of course reading up on the origins of santa claus.

i like christmas, once it’s arrived. it truly is a day of rest.

how are they going to play this off?

it turns out that the administration is data mining a much larger amount of traffic than they have admitted.

The use of similar data-mining operations by the Bush administration in
other contexts has raised strong objections, most notably in connection
with the Total Information Awareness system, developed by the Pentagon
for tracking terror suspects, and the Department of Homeland Security’s
Capps program for screening airline passengers. Both programs were
ultimately scrapped after public outcries over possible threats to
privacy and civil liberties.

i keep thinking of the word contempt. these guys are contemptuous of the laws and people of this country. i wonder how they are going to twist this one around to somehow look like they were justified in their behavior. perhaps i am overly cynical, but i bet some of these guys are secretly, in the back of their minds, praying for another terrorist attack.
it would buttress their claims and their actions that, in times like these, what is called for is dictatorial war powers for the executive office.

the “f**cked company” of real estate?

i had a good laugh at the drenched-in-sarcasm humor of marin PoS, a blog that skewers house valuation and the selling tactics used just north of here in marin county. i think his post about “Living the Mac & Cheese Lifestyle in San Rafael” really sums up the blog’s fundamental premise and writing style. this stuff would belong in the onion…if it weren’t true. oh and there is a blog by the same person that is strictly facts figures and charts.