Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Daily Show: Antonin Scalia on 60 Minutes

Well, it's Wednesday, and I neglected to say anything about the Antonin Scalia interview on 60 Minutes. Since I'm late to the party, I'll just let Jon Stewart do my talking for me. He's funnier anyway.

Bill O'Reilly: The Big Giant Head

On the occasion of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Hillary Clinton tonight on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX "News," here's a little ditty by The Guitar Man from Central Park, David Ippolito. He's the singer-songwriter of the hilarious Tom Cruise Scares Me. Enjoy. (And yeah, I know I've posted this before. Sue me.)

Five Year Anniversary of "Mission Accomplished"

Photo from source, Huffington Post

Can we leave now?


The White House said Wednesday that President Bush has paid a price for the "Mission Accomplished" banner that was flown in triumph five years ago but later became a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war in Iraq.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of Bush's dramatic landing in a Navy jet on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war. The USS Abraham Lincoln had launched thousands of airstrikes on Iraq. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

FOX "News" Not the Powerhouse it Claims to Be

Image from source, News Corpse

Well, this is encouraging news. While the state of news in general is rather dismal--focusing on fluff and silly stuff, while ignoring important stories--at least America is beginning to tune out the most frivolous of the 24-hour news stations. FOX "News" is still the highest rated of the three major channels (3½ if you count CNN Headline News), but it is slipping, and slipping noticably.

My dream for a 24-hour news channel would be one that is publicly funded like PBS. No allegience to sponsors, no marching orders from "corporate" to increase profits. Just hard-hitting, actual news. Remember investigative journalism? The big corporations aren't ever going to revert to offering news as a public service, so we need some other sort of plan. Just my two cents.


In the first quarter of 2008, Fox News was the slowest growing cable news network (10%), behind MSNBC (66%) and CNN (87%). For the first time in six years they finished in 2nd place. Now, in the first month of the 2nd quarter, the diagnosis is even worse. . .

Read more at: News Corpse

George Bush Wants to Wave His Wand Around

Hee heee, I just couldn't resist. Yes, The Decider has hauled out his famous "magic wand" phrase again, this time about gas prices.


Bush’s ‘magic wand’ and its legacy of low expectations.

In his press conference yesterday, a reporter asked President Bush about the rising price of gasoline, now at roughly $3.60 per gallon. In response, Bush was helpless, repeatedly saying he wishes he could just “wave a magic wand” to lower prices. . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Blast from the Past: Lurita Doan's Memory Lapses

Earlier, I posted a story about the dismissal by the White House of Lurita Doan. The White House was told she should be fired nearly a year ago, and she was just now fired. And quickly. While we wait for the other shoe to drop, here's a refresher on her appearance before Congress. She's only one of many in the Bush Administration with memory problems. . .

Kathy Griffin Splits from Apple's Wozniak

Photo from source, US Magazine

Posting a gossip item--particularly one from US Magazine--is quite out of character for me and this blog. But the item in this case is about one of my favorite personalities, comedian Kathy Griffin. And it isn't hearsay, Kathy is actually quoted. So, do I get a pass?

That said, I had my fingers crossed for Kathy--I mean a billionaire? And one who is a deity (along with Steve Jobs) in his own cult? I mean, how would you like to be the guy to follow him?


Kathy Griffin and Apple Billionaire Split

Kathy Griffin has split from billionaire Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

"He is an awesome guy, but I have to say he is in the friends category now," Griffin, 47, told at the GLAAD Awards in L.A. Saturday. . .

Read more at (can you even believe it): US Magazine

Barack Obama Ad: The Truth About Gas Tax Holiday

Hillary Clinton and John McCain are both flying their ideas for a "gas tax holiday" that will allegedly relieve Americans of the high price of gas. This ad from Barack Obama tells why he is not proposing such a thing. Watch.

Hillary Clinton vs. a Coffee Machine

It's gotta suck when a planned photo-op doesn't go as planned. In addition to having a planned gas-station stop (to highlight her gas price relief plan) get completely unveiled, Hillary Clinton also had a run in with a coffee dispenser she didn't know how to operate.

It's difficult to assign much meaning to it. I've been flummoxed by an unfamiliar doo-hicky here and there. . .a gas pump that is different than you're used to, or a coffee pot you have to pump or something. Still it's kind of funny, and the musical track is great.

Bushisms: Make the Pie Higher!

I get a lot of emails from "concerned" friends and family, seeking to expose the Muslim-ness of Barack Obama, or what stupid thing Hillary Clinton said or did. You probably get 'em too. With the help of, I've debunked a lot of those (to the consternation of the sender), even here on the blog.

So imagine my delight with finding an "urban legend" type email to be true! Nearly 100% verifiably true--far closer, at least than any of the other ones I've seen. It's an moldy oldie, but it's also a goody. Remember, this was written in 2002, when George W. Bush's public persona was far newer--and a great deal more popular. Someone got the idea to assemble a batch of Bushisms into a poem, each line being an actual utterance--with only slight alteration--from The Decider his self [sic, intentionally]. Check it out (click to enlarge).


San Diego GOP Chairman a Pirate? AARRGGH!

Photo from source, Raw Story
Most Americans are probably--knowingly or unknowingly--pirates of a sort. Somewhere along the way we've had a bootleg record, had a nephew install Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on the computer for free, downloaded a song or a video. . . It's very, very common. But most of us haven't even entered the realm of the guy in this case. I'd say it's a fair bet that this guy ends up in the next Top 10 Conservative Idiots over on Democratic Underground.


San Diego GOP chairman co-founded international piracy ring

Any job applicant knows that background checks are routine – especially for jobs involving authority or oversight of money. So why didn’t the San Diego Republican Party do a simple Google search before naming Tony Krvaric as its chairman?

Online research reveals that Krvaric is the co-founder of Fairlight, a band of software crackers which later evolved into an international video and software piracy group that law enforcement authorities say is among the world’s largest such crime rings. . .

Read more at: Raw Story and more Here

Don Siegelman Dreams of a Karl Rove Frogmarch

Photo from source, Raw Story

I have no idea just how liable Don Siegelman was for the crime he was convicted of. From all appearances, he was railroaded, and treated very harshly for skimpy charges. Most of the reason I'm willing to lend him a huge benefit of the doubt, is that Karl Rove is very likely involved in getting the book thrown at Siegelman.

Rove is one of the few people who can turn my stomach with one glimpse (as he's doing now, appearing on FOX "News," still uncredited as a McCain operative, while commenting on the election). I know that my wish of seeing Rove having the book thrown at him (repeatedly and forcefully) can't be as strong as Siegelman's--but it's close.


Siegelman: Exposing Rove is 'worth every day in prison'

In an hour-long interview with Thom Hartmann of Air America Radio, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman pounded hard on what he sees as the three main issues raised by his case: the involvement of Karl Rove in the politicization of the Department of Justice, the apparent theft of the 2002 election in which he was defeated by Bob Riley, and money-laundering by Jack Abramoff and his associates. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

White House (Finally) Cans Lurita Doan

Photo from source, The Washington Independent

Here's an unusual story that may portend, as Rachel Maddow said today on her radio show, that another shoe is going to drop. Lurita Doan, General Services Administration Administrator, was in hot water with Congress nearly a year ago, for possibly violating The Hatch Act of 1939.

So why, one must wonder, was she told yesterday to immediately resign today? What is happening today? Or tomorrow? I'll keep my eyes and ears peeled--metaphorically of course--for the answer to that question.


The White House had any number of reasons to demand that General Services Administration Administrator Lurita Doan resign, which she did yesterday evening. Top of the list was probably when the independent Office of Special Counsel found last May that she was in violation of the Hatch Act, the law that's supposed to keep partisan politics out of the federal bureaucracy.

But it would appear that Doan is finished not merely because of political maneuvering that backfired. . .

Al Franken's Big Tax Bill

Image from source, CNN

Say it ain't so, Al! One of my favorite candidates for anything is Al Franken, currently running for Senate against vaguely slimy Norm Coleman in Minnesota. In his tenure at Air America Radio, the network was plagued by really bad management, with really bad financial activities. One of those was a money scandal involving a children's charity.

Now, of course, this has little to do with Al Franken personally, but that didn't stop the right wing spin machine from tarring and feathering him for it. Now, Franken is having to pay taxes in 17 states? It really doesn't sound too bad, and most politicians would just shrug it off. But this isn't Al's first brush with financial issues, even outside of AAR. I hope he overcomes this, I really do. I'm ready for The Al Franken Decade to officially start!


Al Franken to pay 17 states $70,000 in back taxes

Senate candidate Al Franken, dogged by accusations that he failed to file tax returns in California, said Tuesday he will pay about $70,000 in back income taxes in 17 states dating to 2003.

Most of the income at issue was from speeches and other paid appearances by the comedian-turned candidate, who said he got bad advice from his accountant but takes responsibility for the errors. . .

Read more at: CNN

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bush Administration Fighting John Conyers

Photo from source, TPM Muckraker

Earlier this week, I posted an excerpt from a story about Congressman John Conyers, and his threat to subpoena Bush Administration officials about the torture memos. As you might expect, The Decider's flying monkeys are flapping and screeching, and they have no intention of cooperating. Get 'em, John. . .please?


Administration Officials to Conyers: Catch Us if You Can

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) knew he was going to get a fight. And he's getting one. [snip]

Yesterday Conyers released some of the correspondence he's been having with lawyers for Addington, Yoo, and Ashcroft. As expected, none of them want to testify, and they're not short on reasons. . .

Read more at: TPM Muckraker

Arianna Huffington on the Right Wing Media

Image from

One of the most frustrating nuggets of "conventional wisdom" we liberal/progressives have to hear is liberal media bias. It is usually offered without any sort of evidence, as though it is just a fact. I often counter with, OK, outside of Countdown with Keith Olbermann which of the media is liberal? In return, the whole alphabet of ABCCBSNBCPBSMSNBCCNN is offered, but still with skimpy reasoning.

I long ago came to the conclusion that conservatives see any media that does not promote conservative bias is de facto liberal. I find that preposterous, and so does Arianna Huffington, proprietor of The Huffington Post. HuffPost was one of the primary influences and inspirations for this blog, and the following excerpt might give you a clue as to why I like it, and her so much.


It's a paradox: the political center has clearly shifted; what used to be considered "left wing" positions have now become part of the mainstream, and the views of the Right are now at odds with the majority of the American public -- and with reality.

Yet, despite this seismic shift -- grossly underreported by the media -- the Right remains as powerful as ever when it comes to setting the national agenda and dominating the national debate. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Blast from the Past: Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind

Today has been another of those days where finding interesting things to post has been difficult for me. It was a very busy day at work, and listening up for the news was a little trickier than usual.

Anyway, the last post, Blast from the Past: Hardware Wars, brought to mind another funny video from my youth, similar in subject matter, Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind. Now, this is a pure nostalgia fest for me. The relative merits of the actual work is hard for me to be objective about. Check it out though, it may give you a chuckle.

And is it hypocritical for me to highlight a work with "closet cases" in the title, when I complained about the use of the word "pansy" earlier? Possibly. My bad.

Blast from the Past: Hardware Wars!

A long time ago in a suburb far far away, a cable service called TeleCinema was available to the early-adapters of cable boxes. Or, in our case, a nifty box we got at Radio Shack that let us swipe all the extra channels by dialing them in between UHF channels. Aside from the notorious "Channel F," which we only sneaked peeks at for fear of death, there were many fun things to watch that were just a dream before. Remember, this is before VCRs.

We watched Phantasm, The Car, Bug, Rosemary's Baby, It's Alive!, It Lives Again! and many other horror movies again and again. But one thing that really brought us some joy (and hey, we were easy to please), was the Star Wars spoof, Hardware Wars. And remember, this is before YouTube existed too.

For the uninitiated, here it is.

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for the idea.

Keith Olbermann & Rachel Maddow Discuss McCain

As everyone should know by now, John McCain's Straight Talk Express amounts to false advertising. Double-Talk Express is more like it. For a primer on the subject, check out this clip from Countdown with Keith Olbermann, featuring Rachel Maddow.

Barack Obama Cuts Rev. Jeremiah Wright Loose

Can we stop talking about now, then? Please? Thanks.

Do Words Matter? Clinton Supporter and the Pansy

Photo from

The Governor of North Carolina, Gov. Mike Easley, is a Hillary Clinton supporter, and he introduced her to a crowd today. At one point, he said she makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy." Now, I'm not up on my Southern colloquialisms. It is possible that there is a parallel meaning to pansy that does not mean gay guy. I'm saying maybe, but I doubt it.

The one thing I'm sure of, is that Hillary Clinton knows what it means. At that particular moment, she had the big wide "beauty pageant" smile on, and it did not falter when he said that--though she took that particular moment to blink. There had to be a "aw, crap" moment in her head, but it barely showed.

Predictably, some people are making a big deal of it. And in truth something should be said. But a federal case need not be made. A general acknowledgement of the oopsie should be made is all. I'm not a fan of pouncing upon every utterance of the candidates or their supporters. It's tedious and kind of stupid. Still, being a bit personally affected by this sort of statement, I'm a bit torn.

See the video here: ABC News

Clinton Behind Current Rev. Wright Flap?

Photo from source, Raw Story

I swear, whenever I hear the words, "Rev. Jeremiah Wright. . ." I want to throw up my hands, and shout, "Who cares???" In fact, I often do. I especially can't stomach watching Sean Hannity tick off his 1,000 list on his chubby little fingers, marking every little thing Rev. Wright said (followed by flag pins, Mrs. Obama's pride, and gun clinging). I so don't care. I'd like to think America doesn't much care either.

I've even pondered what drives this story. Hasn't it all been said? Then, Wright himself thrust himself into the limelight, making the tedious story more so. And just maybe, Hillary Clinton had something to do with it. That I get, but it doesn't make me support her more.


Paper: Hillary supporter organized Wright event

"Shortly before he rose to deliver his rambling, angry, sarcastic remarks at the National Press Club Monday, [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright sat next to, and chatted with, Barbara Reynolds," The New York Daily News' Errol Lewis begins Tuesday.

"A former editorial board member at USA Today, she runs something called Reynolds News Services and teaches ministry at the Howard University School of Divinity," he adds. "It also turns out that Reynolds - introduced Monday as a member of the National Press Club "who organized" the event - is an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for the tip.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kirk Kerkorian Buys Stake in Ford

Photo from New York Times
Image from Wikipedia

Is Kirk Kerkorian actually C. Montgomery Burns? Seriously. He's got the vague Ruper Murdoch-y evilness about him, he's very, very old, and he still a fabulously wealthy business mogul. I mean, how many people born in 1917 would still be at it this hard?


Kerkorian Buys Stake in Ford

This time, Kirk Kerkorian seems content to hitch a ride on the potential turnaround of a Detroit automaker instead of grabbing the wheel himself.

In a surprise announcement, the 90-year-old billionaire’s investment firm, the Tracinda Corporation, said Monday that it was placing a big bet on the fortunes of the Ford Motor Company, acquiring 100 million shares of Ford stock and planning to buy another 20 million shares. . .

Read more at: New York Times

George Bush's Last Correspondents Dinner

Is it me, or do these Correspondents Dinner thingies seem to happen every couple of months or so? I'd have sworn they've had two already this year. If you're curious about George W. Bush's performance this year, or even if you're not, here they are. The only good thing I can say about it? It's the last time.

Supreme Court Upholds Voter ID

Image from source, TPM Muckraker

I know that a lot of Democrats are up in arms about this. They say that requiring a state I.D. card to vote will disenfranchise the poor and elderly, people who don't have any form of I.D. I suppose it's possible that some such people exist, but I'd really like to see some sort of study on this to see just how many people without I.D.s actually try to vote. I mean, how do they get by with the rest of their lives without an I.D.?

I suspect the actual number of people without valid I.D. is about as low as the number of people committing voter fraud by voting without an I.D. It's just a guess, but it feels right. You see, Voter I.D.s are the Republican's white knight for stamping out voter fraud, as they see it. They see dozens, maybe tens of dozens of people voting that have no right to--the horror!

But, fellow Democrats, let's just let them have this one. With this ridiculous argument out of the way, maybe we can have a substantive discussion on actual voter fraud, committed with caging lists, and hackable computerized voting machines. Thousands, tens of thousands, possibly more votes are being lost in actual voter fraud. It'd be nice to fix that next.


Court Upholds Voter ID Law

Finally, the country will be rescued from its long nightmare struggle with voter fraud! And if certain voters find it harder to get their ballot cast, then so be it. . .

Read more at: TPM Muckraker

John Conyers Threatens Torture Memo Subpoenas

Photo from source, Raw Story

I know this stuff never seems to come to anything. I know that I keep getting my hopes up that somebody, somewhere in the Bush Administration will be held accountable for their actions. While my dreams may ultimately die (and just imagine what kind of precedent that would set), but I'm grateful that Congressman John Conyers is still in there trying. If nothing else, I hope he makes all concerned profoundly uncomfortable.


Conyers to torture memo author: Testify voluntarily or face subpoena

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has threatened to subpoena several former officials in the Bush administration if they do not agree to testify about their roles in the preparation of the so-called "torture memos" that authorized severe interrogation tactics in the war on terror. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Did Rev. Jeremiah Wright Say Something?

Photo from source, TIME

Honestly, I really hope the average American doesn't care about this flap as much as Sean Hannity does. I think if anything, the incendiary statements made by Barack Obama's pastor privide an excuse for some people to dislike Obama, more than anything else. Let's be honest, bombastic African American preachers make a lot of white people (and likely some others) uncomfortable. The fact that he said some things that are now said to be "anti-American" allows people to rename their discomfort, from racism (something most Americans don't want to see in themselves) to patriotism. Just my opinion, of course.

For me, all religious leaders give me a bit of a wiggins, from the syrupy-sweet ones, to the fire-and-brimstone ones. And I have to wonder, would the utterances of Mitt Romney's spiritual leader have made Americans more comfortable than Rev. Wright's? Ultimately, it shouldn't matter. A person's religious beliefs are supposed to be private, and should have nothing to do with their political life. Unless, that is, they overtly mix the two like George W. Bush or Mike Huckabee. So far, I haven't seen Obama do that sort of thing. So what's the big deal?


Jeremiah Wright Goes to War

Maybe Barack Obama skimped on his contribution when the offering plate came past at Trinity United Church of Christ. Or perhaps he nodded off during one of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons. It's hard to think of another reason why the Illinois Senator's former pastor would put on the kind of performance this morning at the National Press Club that can only be described as a political disaster. . .

Read more at: TIME

Top 10 Conservative Idiots: April 28, 2008

Another Monday, another Top 10 Conservative Idiots from Democratic Underground. And it's a doozy too. Enjoy.


The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 334
April 28, 2008
Ever Decreasing Zirkle Edition

You may not know who Tony Zirkle (1) is, but you're about to find out. Elsewhere, George W. Bush (2,6) shakes his booty, John McCain (3,5) demonstrates his leadership qualities, and John Ashcroft (10) explains torture. . .

You'll have to, just to see what this horror is about:

Boys Don't Cry: A Heartless Man's Confession (2.0)

I've been re-reading a few of my older posts, and found one that needed expansion. The reason being, that I've been watching my DVD box sets of (geek-out favorite) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and recently re-watched The Body, the episode where Buffy's mother dies.

Knowing the story, I watched the episode with a slightly more critical eye, to the writer/director Joss Whedon's intent, and found myself more moved than ever. When you read the original article below, you will see why this is a pretty big deal for a guy like me. I'm a black-hearted, stoic, android to some people. I just don't get too worked up about "heart-wrenching" TV shows or movies. This one is different.

I am amazed that this episode didn't win Emmys for everybody, Joss, the actors, camera men, everybody. It's a truly amazing episode. Whedon attempted to depict the strangeness, hollowness, just plain surrealness of a very personal and unexpected death. Very uncharacteristic of me, I teared up several times in my re-watching of this episode.

The Other Half's father died recently, and I got to experience--more from a tangential position--some of the actual aftermath of a close personal loss. Joss Whedon's masterful telling of this story drove home for me the parts I was missing. It is simply an episode that should be seen by everyone, Buffy fan or not. And if you get to see it on DVD, watch it again with commentary by Whedon himself. I really hope this man has more up his sleeve. He deserves better than obscure cult hits on obscurer networks. As good as his shows are, he needs a wider audience.

In the re-posting of my original piece below, I have a YouTube clip of one of the more moving scenes from the episode. It is unfortunately ruined by it's poster, a person I'm sure is an ardent fan, but someone who truly missed the point of the episode. The Body had no soundtrack. No musical cues to guide your emotions. A perfect decision, and I'm sorry that doesn't have the real clip to post. They do have other full Buffy episodes though, so be sure to check them out.

Original post follows. . .
(November 4, 2007)

We have a roommate in our household for a while, and the experience has been something of a new one. It's the first time I've lived with someone who wasn't family or The Other Half. [Editor's Note: Not true. I forgot about two roommates I had in the early 90s. Oops.] It is fortunate that he is interested in pop culture, and especially horror movies, which helps make a bit of a bond. Interestingly, he also shares some of The Other Half's interests, namely those that I lack.

Some of those things would be musical theater and sentimental period-piece movies. Those are times that I usually just leave the room, and surrender the TV. And it has come to my attention that another area where I don't quite match up to the other men in my household, is the ability to get choked up during sad, emotional scenes in movies and TV shows.

Whether it's an episode of Brothers & Sisters, or the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway, the roommate gets misty, and reaches for the Kleenex. I'm just not the crying kind. I can't get past the fact that it's Tom Hanks, or Sally Field. I can appreciate the story, even be genuinely engaged by the performances, but I don't get worked up about it.

Years ago, my Mom and Dad took my brother and me to see Jaws at the biggest theater screen in Columbus. I was nine, and my brother was eight. We didn't have enough money for a babysitter and the movie, so there we were, little kids at a scary movie. But Mom explained to us that we would get scared, but to remember that these were just actors and special effects. A character might die on the screen, but then he just got up, and went home to dinner. I never confused reality and make-believe again. And that may just be the problem!

But I remembered that there is one scene that has choked me up, each time I've seen it (including a few minutes ago, when I watched it again). As I've shown in this space, I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I even enjoyed Once More, With Feeling! the musical episode. One episode in particular was heart-rending, even to me. In it, Buffy's long-suffering mother, Joyce, dies suddenly of an aneurysm. Anya (a character who is a former vengeance-demon turned human), who isn't known for her tact, simply does not understand the mechanics of human death. She offends everybody, and in her frustration, expresses her loss. Kudos to the actress, Emma Caulfield, for yanking tears from a stone (again and again).

Something about this scene always gets to me, and I confess has even brought tears. How strange is that? This heartless bastard weeping over a TV show. Yes, it's true. Watch and see.

03/01/08 UPDATE: I found a replacement video (for now--it could go any moment), that unfortunately superimposes a music track that does not belong in the scene. Hopefully, you can still get the gist.

12/26/07 UPDATE: Sorry folks, but is wont to happen with these clips, FOX has apparently pulled the video. I fail to see why, as all these YouTube clips do is keep interest going in their projects, and raise the profile of their properties. My site has made a whopping 81 cents since it debuted, and I can't even cash that out. I am not putting a dent in Rupert Murdoch's profits.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards on the Media and the Election

Photo from Time

The New York Times has a great editorial up by Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Presidential candidate, John Edwards. She's quite a classy lady, and evidently smart too. She'd certainly have made a great first lady.

I had the opportunity to see them both here in Las Vegas, at one of the very early Democratic forums. Unfortunately, this was only a day or so after Mrs. Edwards' illness had been reported in the press. While Mr. Edwards was on stage, most of the cameras were on her. I felt a little sorry for her, but she handled it with poise and dignity. Yep, classy.


Bowling 1, Health Care 0
by Elizabeth Edwards

FOR the last month, news media attention was focused on Pennsylvania and its Democratic primary. Given the gargantuan effort, what did we learn?

Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates’ priorities, policies and principles — information that voters will need to choose the next president — too often did not make the cut. . .

Read more at: The New York Times

Democrats Lead on Electoral Map?

Image from World Atlas

Let's hope so. I still can't help thinking, this thing shouldn't even be close enough to worry about. Historically, has a deeply (and long-term) unpopular President, with a week economy and an intractable foreign war (or other major kerfuffle) ever managed to cede the White House to his own party?

This should be a slam dunk. I'm still crossing my fingers, and hoping that all the current goings on will be long forgotten by November.


Democrats favored in electoral map
Electoral College road to the White House favors Democrats; McCain playing defense

The electoral road to the White House favors Democrats this fall — either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton — and has Republican John McCain playing defense to thwart a presidential power shift. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Barack Obama on FOX "News" Sunday

Many, including me, were hoping that Barack Obama would continue rebuffing Chris Wallace of FOX "News" Sunday, despite the ridiculous "Obama Watch" clock. He went anyway, and thankfully, I think he came off pretty well. Good for him.

So if you have trouble sitting through FOX "News" Sunday (understandable), and missed it, here it is.

Confessional: I Don't Understand MySpace

Intentionally difficult to read graphic by Editor (click to enlarge)

It is a fact of life that when we get older, we will not understand what the younger generation is "into." That means music, fashion, and slang. And right now, for me, that includes MySpace.

Many times, I've found links to people's MySpace pages that seem to have some sort of interesting content. Invariably, once I click the link, I'm taken to a page that is a horror to behold--unintentionally I'd imagine. My profession as a graphic designer probably accentuates this attitude. And understand, I'm aware of some of the limitations of the medium. My blog here on doesn't look quite as nice as I'd like it to either. Going outside the parameters of Blogger's templates is hard work.

That in mind, let's say you find that your favorite actor has a MySpace page, and the story you find about it talks about great pictures and video on that page. Intrigued, you click the link. . .and are taken to hell. Visual and audio hell, that is. On the background, there is an image that fairly obliterates most of the text, unless you scroll it to just the right place where you can read half a line. An audio file begins playing. . .with no obvious source, and no way to turn it off. You see that the actor has 28,562 "friends," with pictures of themselves, and inane, fawning chatter. If you happen to find a link to photos or videos, the link goes to a generic MySpace page. And you find none of the things you clicked through for.

This happens every time I try. And to be honest, I don't try it much anymore. I just simply and completely don't get it. And hey, I'm no dummy. I'm the "go-to" guy for coworkers and friends alike with virtually any computer issue. It's got to be an age thing. But word of advice, kids: if you're going to use a background image on a web page, dim it by 75% or something. Otherwise, it's just awful.

Bushisms - Laugh til You Cry (Or Vice Versa)

There is no question, George W. Bush has been an absolute dream for comedians. Often times, as Jon Stewart has said, he does the comedian's work for them, and what he says cannot even be made funnier when taken out of context. For we citizens, however, things are a little different.

It's wonderful to have folks like Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and David Letterman to help us find the funny when we've become fed up with Bush and his administration. And this video compilation (with clips often taken from comedy shows) is most certainly funny. But the sad thing is, you could make a montage that goes well beyond YouTube's limitations. Bush has said and done enough stupid and embarrassing things to over-fill a Ken Burns documentary.

The scary thing is, 28% or so of the American electorate finds this man charming. They think his gaffes and general idiocy make him "one of us." I hope we can decide as a nation that a President shouldn't be one of us. I want a President that is smarter and more educated than I am. I want a President who doesn't skip over words in a book that he doesn't understand--he looks them up. Or better yet, doesn't find any that he doesn't understand! I want a President who is the cream of the crop. . .one of our best and brightest.

To me, John "the Economy is not my thing" McCain doesn't fit the bill. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton--whatever you think of them personally--do. Just sit back and watch what "one of us" looks like as President:

And yes, I realize the video wanders off at the end, into divergent territory, but I'm prone to digressions, so I'll not criticize too harshly!

New DNC Anti-John McCain Ad

Finally, we're getting a little anti-McCain action from leading Democrats! Sure, pot-shots at same-party opponents are commonplace in primary contests. Sure, we nearly always forget about them once the general election campaign ramps up. And I believe the whole "Democratic divide" meme is seriously overblown.

But the fact of the matter is, it is that storyline that is getting beaten to death in the mainstream media right now. Even on ostensibly liberal outlets like Air America Radio, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann (tell me again about this supposed left-wing media bias?). If there's anything we've learned in the last seven years, it is that a perception of reality often takes precedence in people's minds over reality.

Thankfully, the Democratic National Committee has finally produced an ad to begin chiseling away at McCain's media honeymoon.

Youth Poll: Jon Stewart vs. Stephen Colbert

Image from LA Times

This poll on the attitudes of young voters is a very interesting read, and concerns much more than Comedy Central hosts. But it is that part that is most entertaining. I was surprised to see that Colbert's most devoted fans seem to be the youngest of voters, the most educated (which can't be quite the same group), and Republicans. The Republicans know that Colbert is putting on a Bill O'Reilly parody character, right?

(Hat-tip to AmericaBlog for the link).


Colbert vs Stewart

. . .So, who's better? A new poll conducted by Harvard University's Institute of Politics gives us some answers about how the young set -- ages 18-24 -- come down on that very question. (You can view the poll, which provides a fascinating window into the minds of young voters on a range of issues, on the IOP website. A word of caution: the poll was conducted entirely online, a still somewhat new methodology that is not yet broadly accepted within the polling world.). . .

Read more at: Washington

[Excerpt from actual poll]

Stewart, Colbert or Neither?

With overall name recognition of 84 percent, there is little doubt that Stewart and Colbert are playing some role in the political education/ entertainment of this generation. . .

See complete poll and analysis at: Institute of Politics, Harvard

Sunday Roundup: Face the FOX Press This Week

That amalgamous headline means it's Sunday morning, and heathens like me who are interested in politics and don't go to church, watch the Sunday political talk shows. The process has become difficult to endure over the past several weeks. Meet the Press with Tim Russert has become the most difficult for me, because this once-smart program seems to have devolved into a political version of The National Enquirer. In short, it has become very much like FOX "News" Sunday, only with a (usually) stranger looking batch of mostly white pundits.

This particular Sunday, MTP came off better than usual, at least in its first half. The guest was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. Say what you will about Dean (yee-aaarrrggghhh!), he knows how to stay on point, without becoming transparent about it. He didn't let Russert steer him, and came off very well. When it was time for the panel discussion, I switched over to Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, where representatives for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton faced off, neither coming off too badly. I switched back to MTP when an interview with Roger Mudd came on--sorry, just not interested. Over there, they were still talking about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

By the way, when at about 8:49 am, Tim Russert says "more Meet the Press when we come back," he's not telling the truth, unless you like to watch end credits. So, it was time to watch the DVR recording of FOX "News" Sunday with (vaguely creepy) Chris Wallace. As I've said before, watching this program on DVR is a must for me. FNS is an extremely commercial and graphics-heavy show, and can be watched in about 40 minutes or less on DVR--about the time it takes to fry a pound of bacon.

This morning, Barack Obama was making a possibly ill-advised appearance. I don't know if he felt pressured by Wallace's ridiculous "Obama Watch," or if he just wanted to show FNS viewers (often alluded to on the program, but never spelled out to be right-wingers) that he isn't the bogeyman they think he is. On that front, I think he acquitted himself nicely. It is difficult to get into the mindset of a FOX viewer, though, so who really knows. Unfortunately, he spent so much time coming across as a nice guy, not a closet Muslim, or deranged fanatical (Black, as seen by many FOXian viewers) Christian, he didn't really get to offer a lot of substance. Still, it would be hard to hate him if you watched this interview.

The (still stupidly named) "Power Panel" portion of the show got squashed down to under 15 minutes this week, with the regular cast of characters. Bill Kristol was shaking his pom-poms facetiously for Hillary Clinton, and Chris Wallace even cast Karl Rove as an Obama supporter.

There is no This Week with George Stephanopoulos this Sunday in Las Vegas--at least not this morning--so I am unable to see what they had to offer.

In short (I know, too late), the only thing newsworthy that has happened this week, if you went by these shows, was the horse race between Obama and Clinton. John McCain only warranted a mention if it had to do with how they would fare against him. Nothing happened internationally, nothing happened domestically, and there is no issue facing us otherwise, apparently. If one of them were to drop out tomorrow, what the heck would these shows talk about?

FOX Renews Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles!

For all of the space I've allotted on this blog to FOX TV's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you'd think I would have noticed this news from a couple of days ago. Good news, if you haven't already heard. . .the show has been renewed for 13 episodes for fall 2008!

I'm thrilled with the news, of course, as this show quickly became a "must see" favorite. If you haven't yet seen this show, but are a fan of The Terminator franchise--or just a sci-fi fan in general, I urge you to check out the show this fall. Up until recently, you could view full episodes at and, but those episodes seem to have been pulled.

Keep your eyes open for them to be reinstated on those sites. But maybe not, as the box set of Season One will be available in August. This show deserves a full season, hopefully several more.


Sarah Connor Chronicles To Return For Another Season

Viewers who thought "Sarah Connor" would be terminated can heave a sigh of relief as Fox agreed to give "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" another season . . .

Read more at: All Headline News

And more at Josh Freidman Talks SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES Season Two

Side note: With all of the links below, you can see I have been sort of obsessed with this show. So why the heck didn't I realize I've been spelling "Connor" "Conner" all along? I just had to go on an editing mission that took 15 minutes! Probably missed a couple. It would be easier if I could just time travel. . .


FOX's Sarah Connor Chronicles May Be Back!
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to Return?
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Hulu
Terminator TV Series Might Be Back!
Terminator 4 is Now Official
Random Thoughts of a Cranky Head Cold Sufferer
Terminator Timeline: My Attempt to Sort it Out
TV Review: Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Fall TV: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Windows XP: Not Dead Yet!

Microsoft's popular Windows XP operating system has been out for years and years, and would ordinarily be considered obsolete. Remember how stale Windows 95, Windows 98 and especially Windows Me looked after the new versions came out? That is what should have happened to Windows XP when Microsoft introduced Windows Vista.

Vista is a glossy, slick, attractive operating system, though I suppose it isn't as awe- (and cult-) inspiring as the Mac's. But Vista has been plagued with problems. I haven't experienced them, so I can't write from personal knowledge. We still have XP on our home computers, on all of our work computers. . .excepting two laptops, one at work and one at home. Those systems are secondary. . .only used on occasion. So no problems yet.

Microsoft is putting Windows XP out to pasture in June, probably in the hope that more people (like me) will make the switch. But it looks like some of the computer manufacturers have found a loophole that will let them keep selling XP machines to their customers who want them.


PC makers find ways to extend XP's life

Facing a June 30 deadline to stop selling PCs with Windows XP, the world's largest computer makers are getting creative.

Taking advantage of the "downgrade rights" offered as part of the Windows Vista license agreement, Hewlett-Packard and Dell both plan to offer machines loaded with XP well beyond June. . .

Read more at: CNet

Frank Rich: McCain Wins in November? Not so Fast!

Image from source, New York Times

It's about time a well-known writer has acknowledged the fallibility of the mainstream media, and of "conventional wisdom." There has been a progressively louder wail, and wringing of hands over the protracted Democratic primary contest. Even one of my favorite pundits, Rachel Maddow, is predicting a John McCain win in November, because of the so-called deep divide in the Democratic Party.

While that theory cannot be discounted, it also isn't necessarily true. Democrats have been turning out in numbers far greater than Republicans for these primaries, even before John McCain was the nominee. Add to that fact that many conservative Republicans were adamantly against McCain until there wasn't anything they could do about it.

And in the excerpted story below, Frank Rich points out yet another fact that goes in the Democrats' favor. So don't get your panties in a bunch just yet, folks! Even if all of those Clinton or Obama supporters who swear they'll vote for McCain if their pick doesn't get in, actually mean it, we still have numbers on our side.


How McCain Lost in Pennsylvania

IT’S a nightmare. It’s the Bataan Death March. It’s mutually assured Armageddon. “Both of them are already losing the general to John McCain,” declared a Newsweek columnist last month, predicting that the election “may already be over” by the time the Democrats anoint a nominee.

Not so fast. If we’ve learned any new rule in the 2008 campaign, it’s this: Once our news culture sets a story in stone, chances are it will crumble. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Reno Gets More Quakes, With More to Come?

Photo from source, AP

Reno is a very long, boring drive from Las Vegas. Or so I'm told. I've only been to the "Biggest Little City in the World" once, and it was on a drive from California. I've simply never had a reason to make the trip from southern Nevada. Fortunately, the Las Vegas valley is a long, long way from there, so the earthquake activity there hasn't even caused Bellagio's lake to ripple.

I'm told that there are many fault lines here in the valley, and that my house is in one of the safer areas of town, being on rocky soil. North Las Vegans might not be so lucky, as their land is nice and soft. Still, the whole valley would probably be in trouble. I don't know if the big hotels were built to be earthquake proof, but our houses are basically built like parade floats--with big, heavy ceramic roof tiles on top! A recipe for flatness!


Reno urged to prepare for worse as earthquakes continue

Scientists urged residents of northern Nevada's largest city to prepare for a bigger event as the area continued rumbling Saturday after the largest earthquake in a two-month-long series of temblors.

More than 100 aftershocks were recorded on the western edge of the city after a magnitude 4.7 quake hit Friday night, the strongest quake around Reno since one measuring 5.2 in 1953, said researchers at the seismological laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno. . .

Read more at: AP

John McCain Used Wife's Jet on the Cheap

Photo from source, via Raw Story

I've read and heard a lot about Hillary Clinton's tactics being a harbinger of how she would act as President. They say that if she's been underhanded or is playing dirty to win the election, she'll employ the same tactics in the Oval Office. OK, that argument just might have merit.

But what of John McCain? The former "Maverick" and "straight talker" (both terms still being used, while they no longer really apply) used to be for campaign finance reform. "McCain/Feingold" anybody? And yet, he's broken campaign finance laws anyway. Now, it's come out that he's exploited a loophole--one that was supposed to be closed, but hasn't been because the FEC is understaffed--in order to get cheap flights on his wife's jet airplane.

That's not illegal. But it is kind of sneaky. So we have a guy who is willing to flout his own laws, and weave and bob between other ones in order to get to be President. How is that any better than what Hillary Clinton is accused of? As far as I know, she's at least not accused of these types of behavior.


McCain Frequently Used Wife’s Jet for Little Cost

. . .Mr. McCain’s campaign paid a total of $241,149 for the use of that plane from last August through February, records show. That amount is approximately the cost of chartering a similar jet for a month or two, according to industry estimates.

The senator was able to fly so inexpensively because the law specifically exempts aircraft owned by a candidate or his family or by a privately held company they control. The
Federal Election Commission adopted rules in December to close the loophole — rules that would have required substantial payments by candidates using family-owned planes — but the agency soon lost the requisite number of commissioners needed to complete the rule making. . .

Read more at: New York Times

Hagee Retracts "Gays Caused Katrina" Statement

Photo from source, Raw Story

Apologies. Repudiations. It seems not a day goes by that there isn't someone giving one, or someone asking for one. A candidate, or a candidate's operative or supporter will say something outrageous (or perceived to be), and then an apology is demanded. Sometimes, the candidate is then asked to repudiate the comment, whether it has been apologized for or not. Usually, they give in, and mutter a few words in the hope that it all goes away.

It can be a rather pointless exercise. After all, the original statement doesn't go away--they still said it, and presumably meant it. It is of course possible to change one's mind, and one hopes that the apologies or repudiations are sincere, and not simply a way to get their fannies out of the fire.

Often times, apologies are made that barely qualify: "I apologize if anyone was offended" for example, is the classic non-apology. Or, as in the following case, an apology is made to some of the offended, but not all. John McCain supporter (a man McCain enthusiastically sought out), pastor John Hagee said an astonishingly stupid thing after Hurricane Katrina:

"All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. . ."

I can only imagine what sordid things went through the good pastor's mind when imagining that. Anyway, Hagee is quickly becoming an albatross for McCain for this and other statements, so he's offered an apology of sorts for those who were offended. Not all of them, no. . .gay people get no apology. Typical.


Hagee backs off comment connecting gays with Katrina

Rev. John Hagee, endorser of GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, has retracted controversial comments he made implying that Hurricane Katrina was punishment from God for a planned gay pride parade, one that he considered the culmination of an era of sin in New Orleans. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Behind the Blogger, Pt. 10.5: Cars I've Owned (Revised)

This is a re-posting of piece I put up a while ago, on the various cars I've owned. It was inspired by a few other similar write-ups I'd seen around the internets. I've since found a few photos of the actual cars, and decided to put them in this revised piece. Personal photos of my own cars are larger.

Have you ever tried to compile a list of all the cars you've owned? It's more difficult than you might think. And finding the pictures is even more difficult.* Here's my list [years driven in brackets]:

#1 - 1973 Toyota Corolla [1982]
- Mine was yellow, had a good deal of rust, a black vinyl interior, no air conditioning, automatic transmission and an AM radio. It was one of Mom & Dad's "fixer-uppers," bought on the cheap for runabout use and then resale. It was loaned to me instead of the blue VW Beetle that had been promised to me--which was sold before I turned 16. Dad & I pulled a FM radio from the junkyard and installed it. . .but it only had 1 dash speaker! I did learn that songs meant for stereo (Monday Monday, Twist & Shout) are kind of hilarious out of one speaker.

#2 - 1980 Datsun 210 [1982 - 1984] - Red 2-door with a nice comfy black vinyl interior, FM stereo, air conditioning and a stick shift. Which meant I had to learn to drive stick--a challenge for uncoordinated little me. Mom & Dad loaned me this one too, an identical situation to #1. But this one was only 2 years old at the time and had square headlights! How cool! Trashed the right side of the car, and had to have it fixed before Dad got home from a trip. Pulled that off, and then the neighbor creamed the left side!

#3 - 1978 Dodge Colt Station Wagon [1984-1985] - My graduation gift was a bit of a step back, two years older (plus two years later), and it was a silver station wagon (and not a race car as in the photo!). I made the best of it. I removed the AM radio, installed an under dash AM/FM/Cassette player, and speakers in the doors. I blacked out all the chrome, and rocker panels. It was certainly not cool, but I got by. This was my only 4-speed manual transmission. Blew the engine, 'cause I was a reluctant oil-changer. Oops.

#4 - 1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback [1985-1988] - This is the first car I purchased myself, with my own loan. I loved this car, even if it did have a large discolored spot on one side, and so much rust underneath that Dad was amazed I didn't fall through the floor. It was silver, a 5-speed, had cloth interior, air conditioning, but only an AM/FM radio. I blacked out the chrome and rocker panels again, but this time it looked cool. It was the first car I ever bought and paid for myself (although, with a co-sign from Dad!). It had a broken gas gauge, so I had to use the trip-odometer to calculate fill-up time!

#5 - 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier RS [1988-1991] - My first car that seemed like a grown-up's car. Not a dream car, but only two years old, and an excellent deal bought at auction. And this was the first model that took the stodgy Cavalier, and made it semi-cool. It was red, had a nifty dash, a cool luggage rack on the trunk, and no chrome. It was a 5-speed manual, but a dog going up hills. Nice red cloth interior and upgraded dash were eye-catching though. Oh, and only an AM/FM radio again. My sister got this car after me, and drove it into the ground!

#6 - 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX SE [1991-1994] - Back to a sporty red number, with T-tops, a cockpit interior, and an allegedly removable hatch back. This was a two-seater, very sporty with dual over-head cam 16 valve engine, 5-speed transmission, and--yep--AM/FM stereo--no tapes or CDs. This car was a maintenance nightmare. And it leaked. And it eventually became little more than a sculpture after its timing belt broke. But it looked cool. Oh, and I forgot, I had a run-in with a ditch in the winter (might have been around the time of the photo), and had another car land on TOP of it.

#7 - 1972(?) Mercedes Diesel Sedan [1991] - The first and only time I had two cars. Mom gave me this car, which she had purchased from a little old lady who only drove it on Sundays--literally. It was dark green, and looked very cool. But the car had been sitting outside in Ohio for years, with no maintenance. I drove it to my house, and it promptly lost its timing chain. I gave it to a coworker for free, and he eventually had to pay somebody to take it. A real lost opportunity.

#8 - 1989 Mazda 626 Turbo [1994-2000] - Beautiful car, it looked very similar to the Audis of its day. And with the turbo, it was amazingly zippy. It was back to the automatic transmission, but had a gorgeous interior, and was quite a ride. My only complaint was the driver's arm rest, which was torture. Oh, and the air conditioning absolutely could not keep up with Nevada heat. And the fact that once it started to wear out (at 190,000+ miles), it really decided to wear out. Two, two, TWO transmission replacements! It had a tape deck, but it ate tapes. Can't believe I can't find a photo of mine to post. . .mine was cooler, with cast aluminum wheels.

#9 - 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sport [2000-present] - My current ride was always my dream vehicle, and it still is. I love it, warts, rough ride and all. It's red, with a removable hard top, with full doors, custom bumpers and side steps, and a (now worn, and covered by fake tiger-skin!) leather interior. It's my first 6-cylinder, with a 5-speed transmission, and get this--no air conditioner. Which even in Las Vegas is no big whoop, since I take the doors and top off every summer. It came with a Mopar tape-eating AM/FM player, but I've since replaced it with a CD-player. It's been a little pricey over the last year, with a series of fixes and maintenance issues. But I'm keeping it, unless gas hits $5 or something--it only gets 15 mpg. UPDATE: Price of gas as of April 26, 2008, $3.59 for regular unleaded.

#? - Dream Car I Can't Justify: 1975-1978 Volkswagen Super Beetle Convertible - See, I love cars, but I don't need to have super-fast, or super-expensive. For some reason that even I'm not sure about, I've wanted one of these since I was a kid. Hey, I got the Jeep eventually, so who knows?

Honerable Mentions - Early 70s 4-door Nova, my brother's car I drove for a month when mine was down. Early 70s Toyota Corolla, my brother's car I drove for another month when mine was down and his license was suspended (I nearly totalled it!). 1990 Nissan Stanza, rented for a month when I lived in LA. And The Other Half's cars, 1991 Mazda 626, 2000 VW GTI, and 2004 VW Golf (pictured with my Jeep above).

That's it! For now, until the next dream vehicle catches my eye.

*Photos culled from all over the internet. I've lost the attributions, and hope that nobody minds. If I've used one of your photos, and you'd like it attributed (or removed), please contact me at the email address at the upper left of the page. Thanks.

Bill Maher's New Rules, April 25, 2008

It's another weekend, and another good crop of New Rules from HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Sadly, it is the last batch for a while. It's the "season finale," and the show will not return until late August. Here is my humble suggestion to both HBO and Bill Maher:

New Rule: Stop treating this show like The Sopranos or Sex and the City. This is not a scripted show that works well in "seasons." This is a show that has a devoted following, one that would have more opportunity to grow if it did not go off the air for four months at a time. Why not run three or four new episodes, and run a rerun or two, and then three or four new episodes? Continuously. Honestly, if The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or The Colbert Report had these kinds of "seasons," they wouldn't have ever burst out of "cult" status into the mainstream.

I will give Real Time credit, it does always seem to return right when the news is exploding. But they miss so much with these four-month hiatuses. Hiati? Haiti? Nevermind. . .

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