Subprime meltdown

The mainstream media coverage of the US subprime mortgage meltdown has mostly been about all the folk who have lost their homes, and various plans the government has come up with to try and ease the problem. Thinking about it more carefully, though, doesn’t it seem a little odd for the US government to interfere in the sacred free market merely in order to save a bunch of poor people from ruin?


Text from a memo found in terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s hide-out: As an overall picture, time has been an element in affecting negatively the forces of the occupying countries, due to the losses they sustain economically in human lives, which are increasing with time. However, here in Iraq, time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance […] In general and despite the current bleak situation, we think that the best suggestions in order to get out of this crisis is to entangle the American forces into another war against another country or with another of our enemy force, that is to try and inflame the situation between American and Iran or between America and the Shi’a in general.


Now that we’ve all accepted torture as a legitimate tool of the US government, the question is simply when it’s appropriate. The answer seems to be: pretty much any time the government doesn’t like what you’re doing. Navy Veteran Donald Vance became aware of illegal arms sales in Iraq—land mines, rocket launchers, that sort of thing. He reported it to the FBI. In return, he was imprisoned as a “combatant” for 97 days and tortured.

State department pwned, thanks to Microsoft

From AP via Slashdot and Yahoo: A break-in targeting State Department computers worldwide last summer occurred after a department employee in Asia opened a mysterious e-mail that quietly allowed hackers inside the U.S. government’s network. In the first public account revealing details about the intrusion and the government’s hurried behind-the-scenes response, a senior State Department official described an elaborate ploy by sophisticated international hackers. They used a secret break-in technique that exploited a design flaw in Microsoft software.

Free market? Pah!

I’ve written quite a few times about horrible airline experiences, primarily at the hands of American Airlines. Well, there’s one airline I’ve never had a bad experience with, and that’s Virgin Atlantic. Which is probably why the US government doesn’t want to allow Virgin to start operating in the US. Lip service to the free market is all very well, but if a foreign airline is allowed to show US passengers that flying doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, where will it all end?

Postscript: Hamburger Helper

Food turned out to be less of a problem than in Berlin, oddly enough. There seemed to be lots of vegetarian restaurants, and we found a vegetarische imbiss at Schantzenstrasse and Susannenstrasse. I also got the impression that people were more friendly than in Berlin. Then again, perhaps it was my imagination, a side effect of my becoming more used to Germany. Josef had an original LP from the first release of Autobahn.

Social Security Numbers: A Modest Proposal

Yet again, a business has been cavalier with tens of thousands of people’s personal data . If your W-2 was processed by PayMaxx in the last few years, any number of people might have read it. There could be thousands of identity thefts as a result. Yet it’s not really PayMaxx who will be at fault if identity theft occurs. The real problem is that too many businesses use Social Security Numbers (SSNs) for authentication.

Dirty Money for PBS

If you watch New Hampshire Public Television (WENH) for a while, chances are you’ll see an advertisement stating that the programming is sponsored by BAE Systems of New Hampshire. The TV ad shows happy smiling families playing baseball to raise money for the American Cancer Research Fund, and ends with the slogan “BAE Systems: A Global Company With A Local Heart”. Heartwarming stuff. Unless, of course, you know who BAE Systems actually are.

It’s that day again

I’ve already seen several people post comments saying “What could make a person want to do such a thing to us?” It distresses me that America is apparently still no closer to understanding the answer to that question. Until the average American citizen understands why terrorists hate us, and puts pressure on the US government to change its policies accordingly, we will only see more and worse terrorist atrocities carried out.

RIAA dream

Question from Dan What’s the last dream you remember having? Well, I dream practically every night, and I remember most dreams for at least a few hours, but most of them are pretty mundane. Last night’s was mostly concerned with a party my parents were having and trying to make some decent coffee for two of the guests, sara, and myself. I assume you’d like to hear about something more interesting.