Month: April 2007

Cleaning up the slums of Rio de Janiero

This brings back memories of New York in the 1980’s when the Guardian Angels got their start.

Now in Rio de Janiero armed vigilantes are pushing the drug dealers and other assorted low life from the slums of the city.

Sometimes law enforcement fails. The key part of it fell towards the end of the article, police can be bought in some areas of the world. And even where you think it can’t be, sure enough the cops can be bought.

So it takes others to rise up and do the job. The problem is they run afoul of all sorts of ordinances, statutes, etc. Even today the Guardian Angels take a little bit of flak.

Living Space

You know I rant about McMansions and their owners all the time. How much space do people actually need? Well for one man 96 square feet is his entire need.

We’re all unpacked at the new place and one of the things that surfaced was the ultrasonic measuring system I got for Keyron a few Christmases ago. So I went room to room and then included for example half the basement. Our total square footage here is 1520 square feet.

But here’s the thing, I kept track of square footage in the places we’ve lived in over the last 14 years.

Square Feet -:- Rent -|- Per Person SqFt -|- Per Person Rent -|- Rent Per SqFt
750 $700 375sqft $350 $0.93
900 $900 450sqft $450 $1.00
1520 $800 760sqft $400 $0.52

Interesting part is the per square foot rent. For a short period it actually increased by 7%, but then decreased by a whopping 48%. More interestingly total space increase by double. Better bang for the buck I suppose. And it’s only going to get more interesting since there’s an abundance of apartments for rent which is putting serious downward pressure on rental prices.

Al Gore at TED

Just watched this video of Al Gore at TED or Technology, Entertainment and Design.

I must say that Gore is much more at ease being a professor than he was being Vice President of the United States. I have a strong desire to see him run again but it appears that he is far too committed to the climate crisis to stop now. It’s a shame really, had we seen this aspect of Gore way back in 2000 maybe the chimp wouldn’t have gotten elected at all. Oh who am I kidding, the god damned Republicans would have pulled any trick to make sure Bush got in.

You can even run your own carbon footprint on Gore’s site that I listed above. The only issue I have with the carbon calculator is that it bases everything on cost and not usage. Since energy costs have been rising at a regular rate, the use of dollar amounts will skew your carbon footprint.

And check out this interesting little animation about Earth.

Post TV Life

Well it’s now been a full two months with no television and I’m loving it. It was a distraction to say the least. An outright waste of money when you factor in cable prices and electricity used.

I did stumble on a new competitor to Apple TV though, it’s called Vudu. In essence is slipstreams movies to you on a regular basis. The networks are toast – what they offer is just so much pablum for the masses. I’d rather be able to just keep things like they are now, one broadband connection, a plethora of information and entertainment. But the new things are very sweet, including Joost. As a matter of fact there are a number of TV sites out there at the moment. And if I could possibly get a joost invite I’d be a very happy guy.

But the Vudu device seems VERY slick. Plug it into the network and start watching. I’m awaiting pricing but they say it’ll be less than $300 for the box which I can deal with, what I’m more interested in is the subscription pricing which hasn’t been announced yet. If it’s cheaper than cable I’ll go for it since even basic cable is no bargain at $47 a month.

But in reality I hear enough music, read enough news, and see enough video on the web to sate me. For example, here’s some news you won’t get through the mainstream media. I was aware of the impeachment protests but this one has pictures and has the added benefit of being at a place where Dubya himself was present. Of course the fucking coward snuck in through another entrance but he’s got to know the tide is turning against him. I just say it’s six years too late. Though A28 did put up a good fight in San Francisco but then would I have expected anything less from those in that city? No I would not. It did surprise me that there was no A28 chapter here in Providence but there is on in Boston.

Put it this way, if we manage to impeach Bush and Cheney just before the elections, it would mean Nancy Pelosi would assume the presidency. Oh I’d enjoy the hell out of that, but the neocons would be apoplectic and rabid in their attacks. Actually it’d be fun watching the Republican party implode.

Prozac for the Pooch

Some years ago in a communications class I was selected to debate the use of drugs on dogs, particularly psychoactive drugs. I was to be in the pro position.

I was so convincing that the professor thought that was my actual belief. In reality I object to using psychoactive drugs on animals. We barely understand their function in human beings.

So now there’s news that Prozac has been approved for canids a class under which the common dog falls.

On the flip side, we’ve been drugging people into submission for decades. This includes kids being doped up on Ritalin, Prozac and any number of other drugs to control their behavior. So why not use them on fido? Because it’s just a way to stimulate sales in order to shore up the profits of pharmaceutical companies.

So if you feel you must, drug little fi-fi into oblivion.

My Driving Rant

It’s been a good six or seven years since I drove on a regular basis. That’s what happens when you live in a city, a car isn’t really necessary.

But over the past month I’ve driven to and from work, supermarket, etc. I’ve driven on highways, local roads, etc. and in each instance I’ve noticed the behavior of drivers in Rhode Island is despicable.

For example, watch my angry rants from just one day. You’ll note the phrase “Smile dickwad, smile!” in there. Sometimes the expletives flow a little heavily. But aberrant driving seems to be an everyday experience in Rhode Island.

One other event happened that I didn’t get on camera because quite frankly I had no time to grab it and start it up even though it’s only two seconds from flipping it open to recording. You see, I was in the left lane of a two-lane road waiting for the light to turn green so I could make a left turn. This idiot just makes a sharp left from the right hand lane and cuts me off when the light turns green.

Some of the things I was taught way back in 1981 when I got my drivers license appear to be non-existent today. The first was that you always practice defensive driving, Ie. try to follow brake lights of not the car in front of you, but in front of the car in front of you. Another was that you NEVER put your brakes on while traveling on interstates unless you’re at an exit. So braking on the highway because you don’t know how to merge into oncoming traffic is in my view an offense worthy of death.

A co-worker and I were talking about it and he mentioned that it’s awfully funny that many people travel the same route daily, yet they won’t get over to the right lane a couple miles before the exit, they’ll wait until the last thousand feet to do so. The other thing that drives be bonkers in RI is that people rarely use turn signals. It’s odd – because I’m a native and I use them. What’s different about me? Maybe signaling my intentions so that the idiot behind me doesn’t for example pull around me to make a left hand turn?

A lot of it is that just in the last few years there are many more cars on the road. They say Rhode Island is losing population but I don’t think that’s true. They also say it’s capitol city Providence is at 176K. I think they’re off by about 30,000-50,000. We’re over 200K. Back ten or so years ago the city was at 130K. Not only that, the surrounding areas like Cranston, Warwick, Pawtucket, etc. have all increased their population since of the million plus people in RI, most of us live in those communities.

Much of it has been due to immigration. We’ve got people from every part of the world here in Providence, though mostly Central and South America, and southeast Asia. But you’ve also got a little Nigerian enclave in Providence, along with a Russian enclave.

And native RI’ers aren’t the best drivers by default but throwing in people from other countries where traffic law let alone the rule of law, is regularly bent and twisted. What you get is a variant of anarchy on the roadways.

And then of course you have the recent admission of the City of Providence that the new red light cameras aren’t making the roads safer. More to the point they’re actually costing the city money. That they’d have no impact on safety was apparent when they sited the cameras. All in places where they’d be assured a maximum of revenue. Here’s the other thing, when they put the necessary statutes in place to allow red light cameras, running a red light and being caught by a camera ceased being a criminal even/moving violation and became a civil event. And people are becoming gradually aware of that.

I did make the suggestion that maybe they could offer a special type of drivers license to people. It would cost a few thousand dollars a year but it’d allow you to correct aberrant drivers without fear of criminal or civil prosecution. Essentially a section 11-8-8 for motor vehicles. But then I realized that money doesn’t necessarily make you a good driver and so had to abandon that idea.

Instead I’ll just keep recording. And then I’ll post the videos daily and notify the local PD. Because in many instance I do get plate numbers.

Probably the best episode of The IT Crowd

Titled “The Haunting of Bill Crouse”. This one was great, as is episode 6 when the boys come down with Aunt Irma symptoms.


And laugh. It’s just too bad this’ll never make it intact to U.S. television. There is talk of releasing the first six episodes to DVD but it’ll be region 2 encoded DVD which means you won’t be able to watch it on DVD players in the U.S. I’d like to take this moment to say FUCK YOU to the MPAA for that one.


Yahoo is now hosting 60 minutes vids, but every 2-3 minutes you watch an ad for either pampers or Oral B.

Anyhow the beginning segment is called “Stop Snitching” and it’s very interesting. In essence, the rule of law has been perverted to a degree far past that of La Cosa Nostra and their vow of omerta.

I am highly suspicious of police but that’s only because I know them from the inside having worked with many of them over the years. The police have fostered this to some degree since you’ve probably seen some of my other diatribes about policing gone amok. There needs to be genuine community outreach but I think the relationship is so damaged at this point that it is nearly impossible and improbable that the rule of law will ever be the same.

And if police try to use draconian tactics they’ll only make it that much worse. I’m not certain what the answer is, but I do know that an open admission on the part of police would be a good start.

Watch your rights just disappear

The NRA has a nice little video on YouTube about police confiscation of weapons after hurricane Katrina had hit the gulf coast. I used to be a member until they started getting a little too strident. But now I see why they were being so strident.

Police do not serve us, they serve their government masters. Also keep in mind that police are by and large a reactive force. If you’ve been robbed, or have a burglar in the house they do nothing to prevent it from happening, but they’re there AFTER the fact to try to put together a case.

It makes me happy that Rhode Island of all places has Castle Doctrine (RIGL 11-8-8). What that means is that if someone breaks into my home, I don’t have to prove fear or any such thing, nor do I have a duty to retreat. I can shoot your ass dead and I’m completely shielded against criminal and civil penalties.

And here’s the thing, if a cop smashes down my door I wonder if Castle Doctrine would still apply. After all, there’s a reasonable fear on my part that someone is breaking in. And who’s to say I heard them ID as police. But sadly that wouldn’t be the case since the elements necessary under section 11-8 aren’t met when police have a warrant. Too bad, I wonder if I could sneak through a modification of the law.

So next time you see that friendly officer on the street remember, he is NOT your friend. He serves his masters.

It’s beginning to look like….

Vietnam all over again. That’s what we all think the Iraq mess is turning into.

You have to ponder the question of who benefits most from warfare. As always, just follow the money. And if you ever have the chance, read “The Arms of Krupp 1587-1968” by William Manchester. It’s still in print though I have the original hardcover version given to me by a friend. It traces the development of the Krupp concern in Germany and how instrumental it was in World War II. And Krupp isn’t dead and gone yet, it’s part of ThyssenKrupp, the elevator people among other things. Even the logo for the company retains the three interlocked circles of Krupp with the arch of Thyssen.

I suppose some day someone will write “The Arms of Halliburton”. It’ll be quite a tale but where it took Krupp 400+ years to build up enough influence to propel a country into war, Halliburton did it in less than a century.

Back to the original subject, the other day I was with Keyron at one of his friends homes. We got on the topic of her son in law who already did one tour of duty in Iraq and now they want him back for another. The only problem is that while he was in Iraq he took two rounds to the back, and one round pretty much destroyed his right hand. He’s also suffering an extreme case of PTSD (It used to be called Shell Shocked back in the WW II era).

This kid is in no shape to go back to Iraq. But they’re calling. At last call he’s delayed until January and I hope our congressional representatives stop this craziness and pull our troops the hell out of Iraq. It’s evident that we’re no longer welcome there, yet the war hawks (corporations) don’t want the gravy train to stop just yet.

It’s part of the reason we’re paying close to $3 a gallon for gasoline. Yes, the military runs on dinosaur juice just like we do, and they get first cut.

So here we have it, it’s windfall profit time primarily for Halliburton but for the oil companies too. Yes it is about the oil but not the way you’d expect it to be. Take it a step further and it’s all about the cash. And one doesn’t have to look too far to see exactly who is connected to this in the Bush administration, it’s Dick Cheney.

So if you want to continue to see men in the prime of their lives get chewed up by the military, stay complacent. Just remember that the payback is coming as those men come home missing limbs and with their psyche fractured.