The Sound of Silence and the Fury

Drawing the line between fact and opinion.

Archive for August, 2007

Is the Judicial Branch a Root of the Executive? or Hey! That Leaf of Lawyers is MINE!

Posted by Justin Johnson on Monday, August 27th, 2007

Disclaimers:
Let it be said…. I’m 16. I haven’t even began my first day of AP American Government yet. But I have seen every episode of The West Wing. So, while I might be wrong with my theorizing, you can blame Aaron Sorkin…

Or maybe it’s the fault of the No Child Left Behind Act which makes schools not care so much about Social Studies education. *shrug* Rant for another day.

Facts:
Lady Justice is typically portrayed blindfolded in this country.

In the United States of America we have the separation of powers and checks and balances and other political doctrines.

The Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the Executive Branch (i.e. The President) and confirmed by one half of the Legislative Branch (i.e. The Senate). The same goes for U.S. District Court judges and U.S. Attorneys.

The job of the President is to see to the execution of the laws of the United States. And to do that, within the Executive Branch, we have the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has oversight and command control over these U.S. Attorneys who are part of the Executive Branch.

Senator Hilary Clinton said the next attorney general should “care about the rule of law more than he cares about protecting the president.” – CNN.com, “Even some Republicans happy about Gonzales resignation”

Lady Justice is typically portrayed blindfolded in this country. (Yes, you have read this before.)

Opinions:
Why? Why don’t we have an attorney general who cares about the rule of law?

I’ll tell you why: The President is in direct control of the Judicial Branch.

And I’ll tell you something else: I see NO reason for it.

Why can’t the Judicial “Branch” (more like dying limb) choose their own lawyers? Yes, yes, stop screaming separation of powers in my ear. But really, the Executive Branch should not have the authority to choose this nation’s Federal lawyers AND judges. That’s how you end up with this political agenda mess we have now and exactly why Alberto Gonzales is resigning and on his merry way out.

Picture this: U.S. Attorneys who actually belong to the Judicial Branch. Non-politically oriented. Doesn’t that make sense? Why not give the Supreme Court of the United States some power and let THEM choose who sits in THEIR lower courts.

The Supreme Court has a weak link and no vested interest in politics once confirmed since they can’t be fired, so they are quite obviously the perfect choice. The American people being a somewhat distant choice, but the principle of collective stupidity comes to mind.

Ah, but what about the President’s responsibility to see that the laws are faithfully executed? Yes, well. It’s simple. While the attorneys would chosen by the judicial, they are still expected to act in the best interests of the United States and follow the Justice Department. It’s one of those honor things. Kind of like how the President can control the Legislative by veto and the Legislative can control the President by veto override. It would be a matter of cooperation and a gentleman’s agreement.

Final Words:
It’ll never happen. The Executive will forever control the Judicial. When you put it like that, doesn’t it even sound silly? Justice is totally blind… but in America, a one-eyed bandit shall lead her astray.

Posted in Political Theory, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Yahoo! Power Mailer or Prosperity Through Being Spammed

Posted by Justin Johnson on Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Facts:
I’ve had a Yahoo! account since 23rd September 2000. Nearly 7 years.

In those 7 years, I’ve sent a whopping 80 messages using it, 4 in 2007. (For comparison, in the 2 years I’ve had a Gmail account, I’ve sent 103.) However, I get about 50 – 100 e-mails a day. 90% of them being spam and the others being newsletters or automated junk.

At 10 AM today, I recieved an e-mail through my Yahoo! account — that I just happened to notice through the Messenger popup, otherwise it would have gone unread for a week — thanking me for being a “Yahoo! Power Mailer”.

Yahoo! Power Mailer e-mail

Opinions:
I will admit, for a while, Yahoo! was my primary account. But, their spam filters are royally lacking and I get a large quantity of spam because of the age of my account and the wide sales of that e-mail address. So, spam filtering is a major concern.

So, I’m being rewarded for being spammed and having suffered with near useless spam filters? I suppose that does deserve a little compensation. And that’s what this is, a LITTLE compensation. What have I gotten? 10 more megabytes of attachment space within an e-mail (that I don’t even use in the first place). The 24 hour support is a crock, because, if the service isn’t working like it should, support over IM isn’t going to fix the problem faster. Kind of like dialing 911 to report a loud party instead of using the non-emergency number. And if I’m a “Power User” like they say, I shouldn’t need basic “How do I forward an e-mail?” help.

But, hark, a notice at the bottom: “Access to these features is available for a limited period of time and may be discontinued at any time without notice to you.” So, in one paragraph I’m a loved “loyal user” and in another, I might not even be worth notifying if you guys decide to change your minds.

Final Words:
I’m going to frame my Golden Inbox Reward and even put in the “Be a Better Power Mailer!” bit. It’s quite inspirational really. You too can prosper through being spammed.

Posted in Internet, Technology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Tony Snow’s Financially Motivated Departure or “Despite my 6 figure salary, I’m still going broke.”

Posted by Justin Johnson on Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Facts:
According to this (The Hugh Hewitt Show, 15 August 2007), Tony Snow is planning to resign from the Bush Administration in the future, citing “financial reasons”.

Relevant transcript portion follows:

HH: Your intention to go the distance, Tony Snow?

TS: No, I’m not going to be…I’ve already made it clear I’m not going to be able to go the distance, but that’s primarily for financial reasons. I’ve told people when my money runs out, then I’ve got to go.

HH: How long will that be?

TS: I’m not going to tell you.

According to the statutory required disclosure of White House salaries listed here (National Journal, 30 July 2007), Tony Snow makes $168,000 a year as an “Assistant to the President and Press Secretary”. There are but two people in the White House who make more than him: The President and the Vice President of the United States.

Opinions:
Now, I’m not one for math… but… if you’re somebody as smart as Tony Snow — yes, he is smart, even if he is the Press Secretary for Shrub’s White House — how can you suffer financial difficulty? Especially when you make $168k. I know the dollar is weak, but… really now.

Yes, of course it’s probably a cover up for the real reason he’s leaving but I welcome the change from people who claim they want more time to spend with their families and turn around and get a job that merits a press release.

When will politics become honest? I mean… financial reasons? If you’re having money trouble, why do you quit your job? Unless to get another job. And if you had another job available, you would know when you had to leave and you wouldn’t wait until you were out of money. Right?

Final Words:
People with 6 figure salaries don’t have financial difficulty unless they invested in Enron or, perhaps now, SCO or maybe some mortgage company. Ya know… it’s all starting to make sense. Bad stock decisions will be the downfall of us all.

Posted in Bush Administration, Politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Watkins Glen and Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) or Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing but we’ll turn a blind eye when the sponsors like it *wink wink* *nudge nudge*)

Posted by Justin Johnson on Monday, August 13th, 2007

Facts:
Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya, after a lap 75 spin, had a bit of a shoving match on the runoff area of Turn 1 at Watkins Glen.

“I don’t think they were fighting,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. “They were discussing things.” Said series director John Darby, “I thought it was cool as hell.” – ESPN, “Spins, scraps and crazy fans; Stewart wins wild Watkins Glen” by David Newton. The fight was later broken up by NASCAR officials and another driver.

Tony Stewart, after the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard a few weeks back, was fined, under section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rulebook, $25,000 and was also docked 25 driver championship points for saying the word “bullshit” on TV.

After the altercation to ESPN, Harvick stated, on air:  “I was talking about kicking his ass, because that’s how I felt about him.” However, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Harvick will not be penalized for using the word “ass” on live television. “It doesn’t violate FCC [Federal Communications Commission] regulations,” Tharp said. And Tharp doesn’t expect any penalties to come from the shoving match between the two drivers either. – NASCAR.COM, “Harvick, Montoya nearly come to blows after wreck” by Raygan Swan.

Opinions:
Let us open our copies of the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rulebook to Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing).

*crickets*

You mean you don’t have copies? Me neither. As we’ve all come to know, NASCAR does not release its Rulebooks to the public. Shame.

Robin Pemberton’s an ass (*ding*). “They were discussing things.” he says. A discussion… that’s bullshit! (*bzzt* Section 12-4-A: -$25,000 and -25 points) How many discussions do you know of involve shoving? Those are called fights. Two guys had to wedge their bodies in between the two. Nice try at covering, but you just sound like an idiot. A discussion… Pshaw.

And Harvick’s little ass kicking comment… O… M… G. Are you bullshitting (*bzzt* Section 12-4-A: -$25,000 and -25 points) me? You have to be fucking (*bzzt* Section 12-4-A: -$25,000 and -25 points) crazy. *scoff* NASCAR…. what an ass (*ding*). I think that says it all.

So, now we’re left with questions: 

Can anybody explain why a Turn 1 shoving match is NOT an action detrimental to stock car racing?
Can anybody explain — FCC regulations notwithstanding — how talking about kicking another driver’s ass is NOT an action detrimental to stock car racing?

I can! THE SPONSORS LIKED IT! The big clue: “I thought it was cool as hell.” said the SERIES DIRECTOR. And who does he take his cues from? The series sponsors. If the sponsors think it was cool (and, admittedly, it was cool), then the series director will. Both Harvick and Montoya’s primary sponsors are in the same field of business (automotive products), last week we saw the battle of the beer (Dale Earnhardt, Jr’s Budweiser vs. Kurt Busch’s Miller Lite) and this week we saw the battle of oil (I guess somebody will come up with a better name). I can see the commercials now…

Final Words:
Based on the above:

  • Getting out of your cars after a wreck and shoving a colleague is not an action detrimental to stock car racing.
  • Talking about, on basic cable no less, kicking a colleagues ass is not an action detrimental to stock car racing.
  • If I were a driver, I would be out $75,000 and 75 drivers points for the sarcastic/expletive content of this post. I’d probably be on probation too. NASCAR fuckers (*bzzt* Section 12-4-A: -$25,000 and -25 points). Damn it. So much for my dream of being in The Chase.

But really, the keyword in the rule is “detrimental”. Since they aren’t expected to get penalties, their actions weren’t detrimental, right? So, therefore, it stands to reason that SOMEBODY in ‘NASCARdom’ is profiting.

Posted in NASCAR | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Internet Profile Literacy or “I saw ur pro, ur cute, a/s/l?”

Posted by Justin Johnson on Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Facts:
MySpace (if not every profile service) has options to set the three commonly requested bits of personal data: age, sex, and location (oft shortened to a/s/l).

They’ve recently begun to list the data in the page title, allowing it to display in the title bar.

Facebook has enough options on personal data to where, when filled out completely, you feel like you already know a person. But you have to be somehow connected to them to see it.

Opinions:
More often than not, at some time during a conversation on MySpace, I’ll be asked where I live. Admittedly, what I’ve set as my location (“The Hellish-Hell-Hole, Formerly Known as Oak Park, Michigan”) is a bit confusing. But, you should still be able to figure it out.

Even worse, I’ve been asked how old I am, even though my profile has my birthday in the about me, and my age in the title bar. It’s about there that I block them as being unintelligent. 

I’m sure everybody’s done it now and then, it’s habit from the old days of chatting where all you got was a short paragraph of text in an AOL profile. But, with the development of MySpace, you’ll learn a lot about a person by looking at their background and what music they have on their page.

I’m not the only one annoyed by this. Lately I’ve been seeing literacy tests in profiles. People are beginning to ask that you input some random keyword when you send them a message to make sure you’ve actually read the bloody thing. Smart people. There’s few things more aggravating than being asked “so wut kind of music do u listen to?” when there’s a long list on your Facebook profile, or a 20+ song music player on your MySpace.

And another thing: If somebody asks, “do u have aim or yahoo?”, and you do, DON’T JUST SAY YES! Say yes… AND GIVE THEM YOUR SCREEN NAME. It’s just… simple logic. You’re likely going to give it to them anyways, so, why are you going to fluster them and make them ask “wut is it?”.

Final Words:
Read the profiles before you send them a message. It makes sense. You’ll get to know the person you’re talking to, and you won’t sound like a bloody idiot.

Posted in Internet, Internet Culture, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Fine Dining Comfort Food or “You did WHAT to my macaroni and cheese?!”

Posted by Justin Johnson on Monday, August 6th, 2007

Facts:
On the Hell’s Kitchen that originally aired on July 30, Gordon Ramsay presented his mother’s version and his version of the comfort food macaroni and cheese.

His mother’s was yellow, presumably from yellow cheese. And it’s his favorite.

He explained that for fine dining, comfort food had to be different. Had to be a little bit more. His was white, with lobster, truffle shavings and aged parmesan cheese.

Opinion:
I love Gordon Ramsay. He’s a good cook and very entertaining. I love my macaroni and cheese. It too is very entertaining. However, after watching the Hell’s Kitchen episode mentioned, I learned the two do not go together.

Ramsay, in his superior culinary style allegedly showed us comfort food, fine dining style.

HA!

Macaroni and cheese… with lobster and truffles passed off as COMFORT FOOD!?

Have a look at a picture of the abhorrence that Ramsay insists is “fine dining comfort food” (you’ll have to scroll to the bottom) and then look at REAL macaroni and cheese.

Which makes you more comfortable? I hope you chose the second one. Don’t diss the yellow-y goodness, the creaminess, and the taste to go for some… lobster-ridden biohazard.

Final Words:
DON’T F%#* with macaroni and cheese otherwise you’ll make a culinary disaster… and I don’t think you’ll be able to get away with it like Gordon Ramsay.

Be smart. Open a box of Kraft (or even better, make it from scratch) and indulge. Right now. Go. Stop reading and enjoy.

Posted in Food & Drink, TV | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Montreal Controversy or How Robby Gordon Saved the Day By Wrecking It

Posted by Justin Johnson on Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Facts:
Today was the inaugural race for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. It was scheduled to be a 75 lap race but went several laps into what FOX has termed “overdrive” after a late race crash which brought out a full course caution on lap 71. Because it was so late in the race, NASCAR froze the field at the caution, ceased scoring until the track was clear, and opted for a green-white-checkered finish.

The controversy centers around the actions of #55-Robby Gordon, #59-Marcos Ambrose, and NASCAR between the time the yellow was thrown and the end of the race.

During and seconds after the crash, Gordon and Ambrose battled for the lead. Gordon’s car spun and Ambrose (among others) drove past him. Footage shows that as Gordon was spinning, a NASCAR corner worker official was waving the caution flag. Gordon, once regaining control of his car and catching up to front of the field, bumped into Ambrose’s rear and began driving alongside. Eventually, Gordon fell behind Ambrose. NASCAR however, disagreed that Gordon should be 2nd and ordered him to 13th position.

Gordon, however, prior to the restart with 2 laps to go, failed to move to the assigned position and was black flagged as the race went green. Rounding a turn, he bumped Ambrose, who was scored as the race leader, again, this time spinning him out.

Gordon finished the race physically in front of #21-Kevin Harvick, who NASCAR unofficially scores as the race winner. However, because he failed to moved to 13th and ignored a black flag, Robby Gordon finished unofficially scored 2 laps down (completing 73 of 75 laps) and in 18th position. Marcos Ambrose finished on the lead lap, scored in 7th.

After the race was over, he did the traditional winner’s donuts/burnout and in the post-race interview with ESPN, Robby boldly claimed he won the race and that he would appeal.

Opinions:
Robby Gordon made a fool of himself. But, in doing so, he brought excitement to an otherwise dreary race. There were five full course cautions during the race, totalling 14 scored laps [Jayski’s Busch Series Silly Season Site]. The fastest lap time during qualifying was 102.086 seconds (#22-Patrick Carpenter) at an average of 95.53 MPH. Caution laps go a little shy of a third of that, at pit road speed which was 30 MPH. So, we’re saying ~306 seconds for a full caution lap? And there were 14 caution laps that were scored. That’s a lot of time watching cars go real slowly. On top of that, most cautions were for a non-crash, such as a blown engine or oil on the track. At least Robby made the last caution and restart fun.

However, he still made a fool of himself. He refused to obey a black flag. He refused to move to his proper position on a restart. He intentionally, and with malice, spun Ambrose. He got what he deserved. But that’s not to say he was alone in the blame.

NASCAR insisted Robby was supposed to be in 13th. He was no further back than 2nd when the caution was thrown, obviously because he was spun by car he had just taken 1st place from on the restart. So, if the field is frozen when the caution is thrown, how does 1st/2nd make 13th?

One argument I’ve read on Wikipedia, with no citation, says that Robby failed to maintain the minimum speed required to hold his position. He was spun and then he made an extra effort to catch up to the field, albeit with devious intent. He tried, and effort counts.

Final Words:
Robby Gordon deserves whatever penalties NASCAR gives. He had no right to go on a personal vendetta, ignore NASCAR instructions, intentionally spin out a car, and then still try to claim he won the race. Robby may drive recklessly, but he livens up a track where ever he goes.

NASCAR needs to check its scoring loops, Robby was not 13th. Nowhere near it. The field had already been frozen. The fallout from this will be worse than Daytona.

Marcos Ambrose got caught in a mess he truly did very little to nothing to cause and deserves better than 7th.

Posted in NASCAR | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »