Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hello, George . . .

. . . Orwell, that is

Under the guise of protection, a House committee has approved the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.”

Internet providers would be forced to keep logs of their customers' activities for one year--in case police want to review them in the future--under legislation that a U.S. House of Representatives committee approved today.

A last-minute rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee members suggested. By a 7-16 vote, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.

Apparently, the title was chosen specifically to discourage opposition.  After all, who could vote against a bill with THAT title?

Of course, all data will be securely protected so that it cannot be used for untoward purposes.


What are we becoming?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Catharsis . . .

One of my employees at the Naval Base, an Italian national named Gino, had a serious heart attack on Saturday.  He has had surgery, and is still in intensive care.  While I don't have all the details, he may have suffered major heart damage as a result of the attack.

Last week, he complained of pains in his left arm and shoulder, and we begged him to go to the hospital.  He went, but the the ER ran a cardiogram, said nothing was wrong, and sent him home the same night.  Three days later, he was rushed to the hospital.

Gino is a sincere, smart and thoughtful human being, and a joy to work with.  He also has one of the wryest senses of humor on the planet.  In less than a year, he has become one of my best friends in Italy. 

He lives in San Giorgio a Cremano, near the slopes of Vesuvius.  We can see the volcano from our office, and Gino and I have been kidding each other that if Monte Vesuvio erupts, someone will eventually see us in a museum like those plaster casts in Pompeii.  That may sound a little dark and strange, but that's Gino's sense of humor. 

No one who reads this will know Gino, so the real reason I'm writing this is explained by the first word above.  I had to put my words down on paper - so to speak.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unfortunate . . .

. . . juxtaposition

BBC news has announced that, "Singer Amy Winehouse, 27, has been found dead at her north London home."

The sidebar on the same page says, "Winehouse comeback tour cancelled."

I am not making light of Ms. Winehouse's misfortune.  She had a unique talent that the world will be poorer for losing. 

My point is, that in this age of instant information, publishers should pay a bit more attention to proofing their work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Italian . . .

. . . next door

Has taken to sunbathing senza vestiti.  Sans vĂȘtements.  Utan klĂ€der. A cappella. 

Make that bare ass, dick-out, buck nekkid.

It is not a pretty sight.  

All the villas here have high walls, so I normally wouldn't have a problem.  But, the only balcony that we use overlooks the area where he likes to plop on the chaise and let it all hang out.
I don't need that while cooking dinner.

Monday, July 18, 2011

In another place . . .

. . . in another life,

I chose what I thought was a truly impressive, masculine and appropriate walpaper for my den.

I labored under that misconception until, while driving through a much seedier part of town, Mrs. B pointed to the second floor of a massage parlor under demolition.

Need I go on . . . ?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

QVC cancels . . .

. . . Jane Fonda book promotion

Some life choices are not easily forgotten.  Sitting on the enemy's anti-aircraft battery with a soulful countenance just may be one of those choices.

Fair?  Maybe, maybe not.

But, after the dance, the piper must be paid.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

 Un . . .

. . . believable

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) used the race card this afternoon to assess blame in the debt ceiling fight. Jackson Lee, a black Congresswoman, believes the disagreement over raising the debt ceiling is because of President Obama's race.

 "I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president, only this president, only this one has received the kind attacks and disagreements and inability to work. Only this one," Jackson Lee said on the House floor this afternoon.  (Real Clear Politics)
Yep, he's the only one who met consistent, withering criticism - other than G.W.Bush, Bill Clinton, G.H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter . . . ad nauseum.

I guess they were all black also.

I didn't know.

What POSSIBLE other reason could there be? 
[subliminal] policy [/subliminal]

Other than race, that is. 
[subliminal] agenda [/subliminal]

I don't deny that there is racisim in America.  There is racism everywhere.  However, using it as a crutch for every perceived injustice is simply ignorant.

Lord, deliver me from ignorance, for it makes my brain hurt.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beautiful view . . .

. . . isn't it?

Monte Vesuvio

From a Sorrento patio at night, Monte Vesuvio (Vesuvius) is certainly a captivating sight.   It also appears very benign. 

It's not.

The most famous eruption, which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum was almost 2,000 years ago - 79 AD.   However, the most recent was in March, 1944, and destroyed three villiages - San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma and Ottaviano.  San Georgio a Cremano was also partially destroyed.

An Italian coworker and friend lives in San Georgio, which is still a thriving, growing community - notwithstanding the obvious risk.  I guess the time lapse of a generation tempers memories.

Vesuvio is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, because of the long delay since the last cataclysmic eruption and the 3,000,000 nearby residents.

Counting Mrs. B and me, make that 3,000,002.

With only 20 months to go in Italy, perhaps we will escape, and not look like this:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This is . . .

. . . the mindset we're dealing with
Killing Osama bin Laden also contributed to the Arab world’s negative views of Obama. In all six countries surveyed – Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the majority of respondents said killing bin Laden made them “less favorable toward the U.S.” Notably, in Egypt, only 2 percent said the al Qaeda leader’s death made them view America more positively.

Notwithstanding the Quran's admonition about taking the lives of innocents, in this mindset, the killing of a mass murderer weighs heavier on the scales of justice than the slaughter of 3,000 of those innocents.

There will not be peace in my lifetime.

And, maybe not in many, many lifetimes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More on Casey Anthony.

This is reprehensible.

One juror has quit her job, and is moving from Florida in fear for her life.

Is this the way good citizens who used six weeks of their life on a demonstrably unpleasant task should be treated?

Do your civic duty, then get lynched?


Friday, July 08, 2011

On Casey Anthony

Innocent and not guilty are two different concepts. Without cause of death and direct forensic evidence, the prosecutors put forth a lot of circumstantial theories. I watched quite a bit, and I don’t think they made the case. The jury had to decide based on the evidence, not how unlikeable Anthony was.

Personally, I cannot understand how someone could go a month without notifying the authorities, or even worse, hit the party circuit. But, there are all kinds of reactions to stressful situations.  I do not like Casey Anthony, and I am certainly not alone.  However, my personal dislike does not invoke the death penalty.

Unfortunately, the press – Nancy Grace, in particular – made the trial into both a personal quest and a ratings bonanza. I found that extremely disgusting. I also think that the roving crowds of outraged citizens need to quit taking justice in their own hands, and put some faith – or at least respect – in our jury system. 
Maybe she’s guilty. Maybe not. In any case, the decision is made, and we cannot change it. Further, we are not above the law.   Are we to go out with torches and pitchforks whenever we disagree with a jury verdict?

I used to believe that all trials needed to be in the public eye.  With the sad state of the press today, I'm slowly changing that belief.  Several talking heads, including Nancy Grace, spent months, if not years, working to convict her on the air.  While we celebrate our freedom of the press, perhaps we should not feed it raw meat.

Someone said that the strength of our legal system is not in how we treat the best of us, but rather in how we treat the worst of us.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Maximizing . . .
. . . profit?
I can't argue with the concept.  Companies exist to make money.  However, shouldn't patrons be offered the whole schedule of choices?
When I searched for a certain book on Amazon, these were the first two options:
- The Gold Coast by  Nelson DeMille  (Paperback - Apr 1, 1999) Buy new: $14.99 $10.19

- The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille (Kindle Edition - Apr 1, 2001) Buy: $7.99

This option was buried in small print in about 20th position:

- The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille  (Mass Market Paperback) Buy: $7.99

Fair, I guess, but more than a bit deceptive.  I liken it to the grocer putting the bargains at the back of the shop in hopes they won't be discovered.

Friday, July 01, 2011

5.5 . . .

. . . or 1.5?
I know there are some of you who are frustrated because we haven't gotten everything done that we said we were going to do in two and a half years. It's only been two and a half years. I got five and a half years more to go.
- Barry O in Philadelphia

I think Barry is being a bit presumptious.

I do have to admit that he got a lot done.  Unfortunately, most of it was wrong.

I'm hoping for Carter redux.

At least, I can hope, can't I?