Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cease and Desist -- What?!

I am not running for President. Not now, not (well, maybe not) ever.

Just figured I'd get that out of the way here early, just in case an overzealous fan (yeah, right) decides to start an "Aggle08" website.

Some dude in Missouri, Patrick Crowe, decided that he'd start a campaign to draft a certain daytime talk-show hostess for a Presidential run in '08. (Smoking Gun).

Great, right?

Wrong. Ms. Winfrey's all in a tizzy, apparently. Okay, maybe she's not. Maybe she thinks it's funny, finds it flattering, and secretly owns a t-shirt or two. If you read the link to Smoking Gun, though, you'll see that at least her corporate persona is up in arms. They've demanded that this gentleman Cease And Desist all uses of her name (it's a corporate trademark, you know), pictures, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

My question:


I mean, c'mon. Anybody who gives two flying rats' behinds about her pretty much watches her show on a daily basis, anyway. Sure, she's incredibly popular, but it's not like her fan-base is growing, or anything, is it? Her lawyers are worried about dilution of her trademarks. Mmmm, okay. So instead of strong-arming some poor schlub out of his stalker-site, why don't they bring him on the show?

She could thank him for his work, assure him she would refuse to serve, and give him a makeover for his trouble. Or a car. Or an all-expenses-paid week at the luxurious Omni Hotel.

Heck, I'll bet if she called him and asked him nicely, he'd take down the website, turn over all copies of his book (which he should be able to sell, anyway), and go on to live a perfectly satisfied life knowing he'd actually gotten to speak with his chosen President.

It'd sure go a long way towards preserving her down-home, personal presence the world (or at least the female half) has grown to know and love.

Does no one at her studio have an ounce of PR experience? It's not rocket science. Announce publicly on your show that you have no intention of ever running for President, and that you'd prefer any websites devoted to such a run are taken down. The millions of rabid fans will immediately (judging from the "Book Club") buy filter software and blot the offending sites from their collective hive-memory forever.

Problem solved.

I noticed the site's still up. Wonder how long it'll remain?

I made it through that entire post without using the name Oprah. Oops, now I've done it. Disclaimer to follow:

I hereby solemnly swear and/or affirm that my use of the name is in no way intended to induce readers to believe that the owner of the name either endorses my beliefs or even cares what I write in any way. I operate this blog without hope of ever profiting in any way from it.

This is not a commercial endeavor.

Please don't send me a Cease and Desi...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

China's Got Too Much Money

According to MSNBC/Newsweek (hat tip to for the link), China's "dollar hoard" is expected to pass one TRILLION dollars in the next couple of weeks.

This is worrying on so many levels.

Not the least of which being the fact that our country is in debt out the wazoo to China, of all countries.

The article, though, says it's worrying China, too. Worrying? Having a huge pile of cash and making the most powerful nation on earth beholden to you for more?

Seriously, I feel bad for the Chinese. They're talking about having to raise the valuation of Chinese money now, which the Chinese are afraid will cause bankruptcies.

My solution:

I will, as soon as I hear from the Chinese government, open an account in Switzerland, into which they may place as much money as they wish. Oh, there'll have to be a minimum. Let's make it one month's worth of revenues, or $17 Billion dollars. Granted, it's a drop in the bucket compared to what they're looking at, but the more they give me, the fewer their worries, right?

I've got to add that I have no intentions of spying on America in exchange for the money. I don't even have any access to classified information, anyway. So, I can't give them that, and I wouldn't if I could.

What I'm proposing is to bridge the gap between our cultures. They give me money, and I in turn tell everyone I meet how great China is.

It's a win-win situation.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Spam, AT&T and An Old Man From Alaska

I recently switched over to Google mail (Gmail). I love the layout, and the amount of storage is great. I promise this isn't setting up a commercial for GMail.

I still have a Yahoo account that I use as well, but my main email address is now on Gmail, and I hope I never have to go back to the world of switch-my-address-as-often-as-I-switch-my-ISP.

But the spam!

I'd really like to find the jerk who figured out how to get around spam-filters by making the message into a picture file (thus bypassing the filters' text analyzers), and force-feed him about a ton of the other kind of spam in roughly 2 minutes. With a white-hot branding iron to use as a fork.

Am I angry? Sure. Who wouldn't be angry? Think of it like this:

You buy a house, and move in all of your possessions. A salesman comes knocking on the door. You politely tell him that you're not interested, and he leaves.

But he keeps coming back. Every day.

You take active steps to discourage his return. You get surveillance gear, "No Trespassing" signs, vicious dogs, etc. And still, he comes up with ways around these measures every time.

Now here's the question:

Why in Heaven's name would anyone believe for one second that bothering someone in this way is going to get that person to buy your product?!!?!???!!!???!?!??!!!??!?!!???!?!?!!!??!?!!

I don't even know what they're selling anymore, since the subject line no longer says anything like "Ćăńąďĩāņ PĥăŕmąčŶ" or "V*I*A*G*R*A."

Now the subject line is invariably something cryptic, like a couple of randomly selected words. It makes me wonder if it's supposed to grab my attention.

ME: "Oooh, someone sent me an email about tire heart. I love tire heart! I think I'll read it and follow any link/business advice/pharmaceutical nonsense it may or may not contain."

Nope. It just makes me angry.

Kinda makes me wish Senator Ted Stevens (R-Idiot) would do something about the spammers clogging my intertubes.

If it's so all-fired important that AT&T is able to tier the "internets" (I love politicians, thanks GW) because one of our senators thinks the internet is a series of interconnected tubes, why can't we get them to pass a law requiring forced castration of spammers?

C'mon, Ted! May I call you Ted? No? Okay.

C'mon you shortsighted, uninformed moron! Stop kowtowing to corporate cronies (who are doing just fine financially, btw) and start representing the people who were smooth-brained enough to elect you to your exalted office.

And nooooo, I'm not talking about bridges to nowhere, or helping sonny-boy catch fish either (if you know what I mean).

Wait. Seriously, everybody. Why is this guy still allowed to have a hand in the policy of our country?

It's mind-boggling.

I'll settle with all you Alaskans out there. I'll quietly give in, and pay my share of the billions you apparently need to build bridges to islands nobody lives on, if you'll vote this tube-head out of office.


I thought not.

Monday, May 15, 2006

No Fear, Kiwis. EBay Is On The Case!! (w/Rivalries Question)

Heh heh.

Some fellow down in Australia decided he'd post an auction on eBay, attempting to sell New Zealand to the highest bidder. (Findlaw Link)

An eBay spokesman levelled the understatement-of-the-day, when he said, "Clearly, New Zealand is not for sale."

Intrigued, I had to look into this a bit more.

I've read where the articles on the subject say there's an intense rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis (mainly based on football), but it makes me wonder if it's anywhere near as intense as, say, Texas' rivalry with Oklahoma (mainly based on, well, the good kind of football). A tried-and-true joke told around here: Why doesn't Texas fall into the Gulf of Mexico? Answer: Because Oklahoma sucks.

Texas also has not so much a rivalry as an intense hatred of New Mexico, and vice-versa (based not upon sports, but upon everything else). It's common knowledge that, if a Texan needs to drive in New Mexico, he'd better make sure of a couple of things first. 1.) Make sure his car is in good working order, because if he breaks down, he's not getting any help from the locals; and 2.) Make sure he budgets enough time to drive at least 5 mph under the speed limit, because NM cops have itchy ticket-hands when they see Texas plates. Hey, New Mexico's got to get money from somewhere, right?

But all of this made me wonder if there's more rivalries in the states. I've lived in Texas all of my life, so I can't say. I've touched on OK and NM, and the only other state with any real border on Texas is Louisiana. Our attitude towards them? Well, they're like the cousins you love to party with, but you feel a little leery of living next door to them. ;-)

So, chime in with your rivalries. If any of my three readers live anywhere other than Texas, we should have, well, let's see, precisely three replies.

In the meantime, I'm going to set up a seller's account on eBay and see what I can get for New Mexico.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Illegal Immigration -- Clearing Up a Misconception

Yes, I am coming out of my almost 5-month dry spell. I've been pretty busy lately, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because if I'm working, then there's work to do. Bad, because if I'm not posting to my blog, all 3 of my readers have to find something else to do with their 5 free minutes.

What brings me back, you ask?

Headline on FindLaw today:

"Many nations harsher than U.S. on illegal immigrants, study says"

To that I say, "Nooo, really?"

Let's take a closer look and see if the article tells us something we don't already know...

I'm sure almost everyone by now has seen the Mexican government's position on illegal immigrants in their country. Deport! What's interesting to note is that there's some waffling and misinformation as to whether or not illegally entering this country is a criminal offense.

The article quotes Rep. James Sensenbrenner thusly:

"With all the blustery rhetoric coming from opponents about a 'harsh' and 'draconian' House bill ..., I note that five out of the six countries studied - including Mexico - make illegal entry and unlawful presence a criminal offense."

The article then proceeds to contradict the spirit of Sensenbrenner's quote, when it points out that illegal entry into the U.S. is a midemeanor. The last line of the article, however, notes that "Illegal presence in the U.S. is now a civil offense."

Shall we clear all this up, once and for all?

While it is considered a civil offense to be in this country without proper documentation, such a distinction is only relevant for those who entered the country legally, and who obtained proper documentation upon entering. See, those documents invariably include a time period in which the holder is legally entitled to remain in the country. When that time period expires, and the party has taken no action to extend the time period or leave, that person may then be held to the civil penalties that come from "Illegal presence in the U.S."

Those who do not have, and have never had, proper documentation for being in the U.S. have de facto entered this country illegally. Illegal entry is when someone enters the country at any time, in any place, or any manner other than those determined by our immigration service. If they enter legally, there is a record somewhere of their presence, and they may be kept track of.

If they enter illegally, however, they have violated criminal law and are subject to imprisonment. Sure it's only 6 months for a first offense (after that it becomes a felony), but it's still a criminal penalty, not a civil one.

Okay, so now we discuss the problem.

We're not enforcing the law already. If we pass Sensenbrenner's bill, and make it a felony to enter the country illegally, will we suddenly start to? I doubt it.

What's really disgusting about the whole situation is that we're devaluing all of our laws by not enforcing this one. Not to mention the damage we're doing by having our elected officials imply that it's not against the law to enter this country without passing through a border checkpoint.

I've heard all the sob stories about how these people are only here because they've got nothing else. They don't have any choice. If they want to live, they've got to be here working.

I'm not buying it any more. If they want to break laws to bring a change in those laws, I suggest they do so in Mexico. It's not a poor country, just poorly run. Let's dispense with the crocodile tears for people who can't afford to stay in their own countries, but can somehow afford to gamble with their futures by walking off the job here. Let's toss out the window any sympathy for people who come here illegally, forcing those who are willing to follow the law to take a backseat.

I've heard talk that the recent "boycotts" is starting to cause a backlash. Well, pardon my saying so, but "Duh." The American people are tired of paying for illegal immigrants with our jobs, our benefits, our health care money, our law enforcement money, our insurance money, and otherwise.

I'm tired of it, too. It's illegal for someone to enter the country without proper documentation. No more amnesty talk. Build a wall, round them up, and send them back.

Now that, I'd spend my money on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This Post Is Not About Samuel Alito's Nomination. I'm Just Concerned.

I promise. No links, either, so if you're looking for a portal to interesting reading on a variety of subjects, you might look elsewhere. All I've got right now are opinions.

I just wanted to drop in and say that I'm concerned. What about, you ask? Everything.

I'm concerned about why I can't reconcile my distaste for President Bush's wire-tapping practices on the one hand with my almost fervent desire that we catch terrorists in this country on the other.

I'm concerned about my inability to center in my mind a position regarding "torture" of prisoners of war. What's the definition of "torture," anyway? Certainly it's important to have a solid definition of "torture" before a debate on whether or not it should be allowed, right? Maybe not. Maybe the word itself is bad enough. Must be.

But that's not all I'm concerned about.

I'm concerned that a fella (James Frey) who writes a book, ostensibly about his life, and is then called on the carpet for making much of it up, can continue to gain the support of our reigning Queen of the talk shows. Oprah, in case you were wondering.

I'm concerned that the Supreme Court has decided not to decide, yet again, a "controversial abortion case" regarding a New Hampshire law. I'm reminded of a line from a Rush song. "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." So, I guess I'm concerned that they made the same choice as usual. Oh well.

On a related note, I'm still concerned regarding why, if we have the right to privacy (which includes a woman's right to decide what to do with her own body), I can't sell one of my kidneys to someone in order to send my kids to college. Bad comparison? Maybe so, but it's worth thinking about. And I'll pre-emptively defuse all the possible comments by agreeing that selling my brain may be a better deal for me (but not the other guy).

I'm concerned that, since Hollywood has suffered tremendous flops at the box-office over the past year, they're no longer going to make movies for regular folks any more. Instead, we'll get movies about transsexuals (Transamerica) and gay cowboys (Brokeback Mountain). It's great, I suppose, if you're a transsexual or a gay cowboy. I'm neither, so the only movies I've gotten to watch lately were the mind-numbing remake of War of the Worlds and the impossibly rushed 4th installment of the Harry Potter series. Hollywood's making movies for Hollywood now. I don't necessarily begrudge them the (yet to be adjudicated) Constitutional right to choose what incredibly boring subject they will film. Just take the awards shows off the air so I can watch more reality TV.

Boy, that last one was long. Shorter now:

I'm concerned that the "Culture of Corruption" will decide that I'm a likely target for corrupting, or exercising corruption against.

I'm concerned that the House of Representatives will expand their "Plantation"-like way of governing into the public sphere. I've no desire to serve at some old white guy's table.

I'm concerned that a large portion of the residents of Houston ("America's Fattest City") will think Ray Nagin wasn't kidding when he promised that New Orleans would be a chocolate city.

I'm concerned that someday the supermarket check-out line won't have anything colorful to say about Brad, Jen, Angelina, etc. (There you go, Brent)

I'm concerned that this year's Superbowl will witness the first halftime fall-and-break-a-bone, as Mick Jagger shakes his last with the hips God (or whatever deity he professes faith in) gave him.

Not concerned about the Alito nomination, though. No, sir.

After all, if the Democrats really wanted him out bad enough, they'd just have Teddy invite him to lunch.

"C'mon, Sam. I'm drivin'"