War is Peace - Freedom is Slavery - Ignorance is Strength

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Confirmed: Bin Ladin Tape Huge Pain in My Ass

I noticed the headlines on this yesterday, but I didn't even read the story, because I knew it would be an avalanche of bullshit.

The first thing that stands out about all of these recordings is that none of them can be positively verified as authentic, or repudiated as inauthentic.

Currently the only means that independant organizations have of testing the validy of any new Bin Ladin tape is by comparing it to other Bin Ladin tapes, with the underlying assumption being that the other tapes are valid.

In the case of one proported Bin Ladin audio recording, which was aired on 11/13/2002, an independent review by a Swiss research institute concluded that the voice on the tape did not match the voice profile created from computer analysis of twenty other Bin Ladin tapes. (Bin Laden tape 'created by impostor', The Guardian)

The second thing worth noting is that irregardless of whether or not these tapes are actually the recorded voice of Usama Bin Ladin, he doesn't control when, how, or if they ever get aired.

For instance, in the case of a tape that was aired of 2/12/03, it was widely reported in American as well as European press that Colin Powell made a reference to the Bin Ladin tape before Al Jazeera ever aired it. When reporters called Al Jazeera to try and find out what Powell was talking about, their representatives denied having a Bin Ladin tape, but then it ended up going on the air a short time later. The next day, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government had been given the tape by the government of Quatar five days before it was broadcast, and that the Quatari government had the final say on whether or not it would be broadcast. (US already knew of Bin Laden tape)

So, in the case of this tape, it is reasonable to say that not only could it possibly be a fake, but it is also almost certain that the government of Quatar made the final decision to put it on the air, and it is quite possible that the Bush administration knew it was going on before it was aired.

My question, and the question of many, is who would gain from the release of this tape, and why would they choose to release it so close to the U.S. election? Given the close proximity to the election, it is possible that the tape is meant to affect the vote, but how?

One analysis is that the tape will have no effect on the election result at all.

The other analysis would be that the tape will affect the vote by causing a last minute shift toward Bush as voters are reminded that the issue they view Bush as being the strongest on - terrorism - is the one they should focus on when they go to the polls.

What is missing here, is any obvious way that the release of this tape could be viewed as a positive for Kerry.

Now, assuming that the tape was made by Bin Ladin, he obviously benefits no matter what, because he is getting his message out. But why would Bin Ladin choose to release a video tape now, targeted at Americans, when many events of much greater importance to the middle east have come and gone without a video address by him to his muslim followers?

What about the government of Quatar, which reportedly has veto authority over Al-Jazeera? Why would they choose to air the video now? How long was it in their possession before they aired it? When did they inform the administration of its contents, and their intent to air it?

And this is about where I throw my hands up, and say "Fuck It," because nobody knows the answers to those questions, and I doubt anybody will be finding out any time soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Reference Previous Quote


Hey, hey. I get to do my first correction. A reader was kind enough to write and tell me that Eagleton was actually on the McGovern ticket, not McCarthy, which would make sense since McCarthy never got the Democratic nomination. Luckily this is buried off the front page now, so nobody will notice the mistake.

I guess blogging isn't such a revolutionary medium after all.


CNN just put Thomas Eagleton on the air to analyze trends in the electorate.

Yes. This is the same Tom Eagleton who sank Eugene McCarthy's bid for the presidency when it was revealed - after Eagleton was named as the ticket's VP - that Eagleton had a history of depression and mental illness that had been treated with hospitilization, and even electro-shock therapy.

How the FUCK does this geriatric shit-sack - who was a fucking rusty anchor on the Democratic party even in his youth - get anywhere near a microphone and TV camera, and what kind of sick, twisted network would put him on the air to unleash his demented ravings on the innocent public.

Holy God, I hate cable news.

I better take some aspirin, or cook some junk, because my heart can't take this strain much longer.

The End is Near

Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits - a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.
[I don't even have to give an attribution for that]

Thank god this election cycle is almost over. I think that I finally understand why so many Americans don't vote. They secretly hope that by refusing to join in playing the election's game, that it may eventually go away, to never bother them again.

This year - they say - is different. People are excited, eager, and frothing at the mouth like rabid beasts for their opportunity to descend upon the polls and cast their vote. The reason for this, I suspect, has something to do with the roll voting actually plays in our political system.

The Vote, by nature, is not a mechanism for elevating individuals to power. People are quite motivated and capable of seeking power through means other than the dull trappings of democracy. What voting is then, at its core, is a mechanism for removing people from power. And by that reasoning, any surge in voter interest in an election is almost certain to bode ill for whoever happens to be holding office come election day.

This simplistic musing is just one of the reasons why I am now more confident than Terry Mcauliffe that John Kerry is simply counting down the days till victory. Another reason may be this new supply of speed that I have just tapped into, but who really knows these days.

Now, getting back to the quote that I lead with. I felt it was appropriate, because the level of bullshit in the press is hitting new highs almost as frequently as I am.

Hawaii, and Arkansas are in contention... There are 31.2 scenarios that could lead to an electoral college tie - to be broken by Tom Delay's HoRs... Massive Republican disenfranchisement efforts... coordinated breakins of Republican offices... A demented Republican-hater attempting to run over Kathleen Harris in his Cadillac... (that is true actually)

I have said it before, many a time, and I will say it again: Bush lost in 2000, and there is no good reason to believe - based on his record - that he will win this time.

I also occurs to me that I once made the claim that "If Rumsfeld is still Secretary of Defense on election day, then GWB will be our next President."

Now, I won't go so far as to say that those two statements don't have a somewhat contradictory theme, but they are not necessarily mutually exlusive.

As history has shown, winning an election does not make one president, and it may turn out that losing two elections doesn't necessarily disqualify you from at least beginning your second term in office. Despite my supreme confidence that Kerry will win, I am somewhat less sure that he will be our next president.

The greatest weight on my confidence in a Kerry presidency is Florida. Regardless of polling that is favorable to Kerry, and what I believe will be a massive Democratic turn out, my gut instinct is that Florida will go for Bush - by any means necessary.

If the President really does have Florida locked down, then he is playing the rest of the electoral college game with the same cooked odds as a gambler holding an ace up his sleeve. The simple fact is that any way you stir the pot the EC is very favorable to Bush, if you take Florida out of contention.

All that remains now is the agonizing wait. I try not to think about all of the evil schemes and plots that may come to fruition on election day, or of the possibility of nightmarish court wranglings over voter eligibility that result in months of indecision, and culminate with the elevation of the losing candidate to America's highest elected office for the second consecutive time.

If any of those things do happen, don't expect me to write about them. Because if Kerry isn't the decisive winner by early Wednesday morning, I will either flee the country, or spend at least the next three weeks shooting smack in the basement of a condemned house.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Reservists Face Discipline After Refusing "Suicide Mission"

This is a surreal story, which I'm sure will make the NYT tommorow.
The Army is investigating members of a Reserve unit in Iraq who refused to deliver a fuel shipment north of Baghdad under conditions they considered unsafe, the Pentagon and relatives of the soldiers said Friday. Several soldiers called it a "suicide mission," relatives said.
The article quotes one of the soldiers who was ordered on this mission as saying that "We had broken-down trucks, nonarmored vehicles. [And] We were carrying contaminated fuel." Apparently they were being ordered to deliver this useless fuel, without an armed escort, to a base located in the infamous "Sunni Triangle," which has been widely reported to be the most dangerous part of Iraq.

Full Story (N.Y. Times)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I Wrote That?


It is always nice to get up in the morning, and find some funny-ass-shit [at least I think it's funny] that you had totally forgoten posting the night before.

I guess this is what happens when half a fifth of rum (blended in a nice rum-punch) is only one part in a nice three-way downer cocktail.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Cult of the Dancing Chicken


All must kneel before the dancing chicken.

The wrath of the dancing chicken will know no limits, and unbelievers will fall beneath his sword like sheep in a slaughterhouse when the day of peckoning comes.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Total Randomness™ - Now in quote form

Snap, yeah RiKeR =)


Maaaaaan allmost weekend but not quite yet, but but soon soon soon soon, and then it's home to watch my MrRiker dl.

Remember kids, your supposed to take your Ritalin before posting on forums.

Monday, October 04, 2004

From the Archives: Suggestions for improving workplace productivity

[Like most companies, one of my former employers - an inbound customer service call center - had a "suggestion box," where employees could drop off whatever they had that they wanted "management" to receive and consider for adoption as company policy.

Now, my hunch would be that management will never see or read a word that goes into that shabby little box on the wall, and whenever necessary, it is emptied into the nearest rubbish bin.

There are good reasons to believe this. A) given the quality of your average call center employee, most of the "suggestions" will be total crap, or will have been already implemented, and fully explained, in the manual that no one bothers to read. B) The remainder of the "suggestions" will simply be verbal abuse, un-verifiable claims against low-level supervisors, and slanderous charges of bestiality against the companies executive officers. C) The final type of suggestion that might appear, if anyone in management were to actual read any of them, is the most feared of all, not for its literary content, but for its mysterious "wet suprise," which is bound to turn the stomach of even most hardened middle-manager.

The following "suggestion" can be classified somewhere inbetween categories A, and B. I have never personally followed through on a Category C suggestion, but I am umemployed, and may end up working in another call-center, so hope shines eternal that someday I may move into the upper-echelon of workplace malfeasance that is defined by behavior such as the Category C suggestion.]

Subject: Suggestions for improving work place productivity

I believe that the overall productivity of CSRs could be dramatically improved by instituting an IVR [interactive voice response] "Basic Aptitude Test" for ALL inbound callers.

The details would have to be worked out, but in theory, it would work something like the following:

Customer calls in

[IVR] - For each of the following questions please press the number that corresponds to the answer.

[IVR] - Please enter the answer to the mathematical question: 2 + 2

-Wait for response. If it is accurate, move on, if it is inacurate, explain to the customer again what they are supposed to do, and give them another different question of similar difficulty.

[IVR] - If you were to count the letters in the alphabet, which letter would "A" be?


Implementing a system like this would almost certainly cut call volume in half, and possibly by as much as 60-70%. Additionally, stress levels amongst employees would be dramatically reduced. Stress related phenomenon, such as broken keyboards, and employee altercations resulting in violence, would almost certainly be reduce if not completely removed. Finally, the company would also see reductions in their premiums for dental insurance, as they would no longer have legions of employees requiring dental reconstructive surgery due to the incessant gnashing of teeth that is the result of having to deal with exactly the type of customers that said system would weed out.

I thank you for your time, and hope that you will seriously consider this proposal as a means for improving both your bottom line, and the working conditions for your employees.

News Flash: I still can't gamble for shit!

For reasons that can only be explained in terms of dangerous scheduled substances, and massive amounts of alcohol, I managed to get into another orgy of gambling on Saturday night, and once again got my ass beat like a red-headed step-child.

Total losses were around $15, (I tend to gamble very low-ball given my current avg. monthly income of $0.00) and they would have probably been greater, except that after 2:00 am we were all to smashed to keep track, and so all of the action from those hours was set aside.

These damn cards - they have it out for me. I swear!!! It's all the cards...

Friday, October 01, 2004

Good Morning Vietnam

Aided by Iraqis, U.S. Seizes Part of Rebel Town
SAMARRA, Iraq, Oct. 1 - American and Iraqi forces battled their way into the center of this insurgent-ridden city on Friday, claiming that they had taken control of more than half the town and that they had killed more than 100 guerrillas, in what is shaping up to be one of the largest military operations since the war began.
Does anybody else remember that at the beginning of the war in Iraq we never released numbers for enemy body counts?

It was only when our casualties got out of control that we began releasing numbers for enemy casualties that put ours in a more positive light.

Does anyone else remember the fact that we have already declared victory, or declared that we have "turned the corner" in Iraq at least half-a-dozen times already?

Wake up and smell the napalm. It smells like "victory."

Media Self-Perception

Tens of millions of Americans will watch the first of three Bush-Kerry debates and draw their own tentative conclusions as to who got the best of it. But perceptions can shift as commentators, analysts and spinners chew things over and selected sound bites are endlessly replayed on television, creating "moments" that may not have seemed particularly dramatic at the time.
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post wrote that a couple days ago, before the debate.

I was talking to Mr. A before the debate, and he essentially brought up the same thing - talking about Gore's sighing, and how it had been heavily covered in 2000.

Well first off, let me just mention - yet again - that Gore WON the election in 2000 by 500,000 votes, and that was with a left-wing third-party candidate taking a couple million more off his pile, so despite what people on cable news talk shows might be saying, the American People didn't seem to have that big of a problem with Gore's infamous sighs.

Am I trying to say that when the cable news shows go 24/7 on some inane bullshit that people aren't affected by the overwhelming onslaught, and don't just accept it as conventional wisdom? No, not exactly. People are affected by what the cable news outlets put out, (polls of how viewers receiving their news solely from FNC view the world provide some good anecdotal evidence of this) but the fact is that the number of people actually watching cable news is tiny, and so no matter how loud O'Reilly and Scarborough shout, or how much slant FNC has in its coverage, most people will never hear or see it.

You want numbers? Oh, believe me baby, I got numbers.

All numbers of viewers - not ratings* - ratings are from August.

[*Nielsen ratings are percentage points of the total audience, which is close to a 100 million anyway, so it can be easy to confuse the rating with the viewership, since the numbers are on the same order.]

Primetime Cable News Ratings:
Fox - 2.1m
CNN - 730,000
MSNBC - 360,000
CNBC - 180,000

Cable News Personality Shows:
O'Reilly - 2.7m
Hannity - 1.8m
Scarborough - 330,000

Not that stellar. In fact, O'Reilly, who has the highest rated show on a cable news channel, is still losing in the ratings war to Spongebob Squarepants.

Now, let's see what happens when we compare cable news to another type of show that drives public perceptions, and also covers current evens - the late night talk shows.

Tonight Show (Leno) - 5.1m
Late Show (Letterman) - 4.9m
Late Night (Conan) - 2.2m
Late LateShow (Kilborn) - 1.6m
Last Call (Carson) - 1.4m
Jimmy Kimmel - 1.4m

Here we see that the two flagship shows both get almost double the audience of O'Reilly, and although I don't have the numbers, I would be willing to bet that it is a much more diverse, middle of the road audience. The rest of the late night shows, some of which come on at 1 and 2 in the morning, still get larger audiences than the likes of Hannity, and Scarborough, and still get a larger audience than the primetime audience for cable news. It should also be added that Saturday Night Live generally draws an audience of 6-7 million viewers, which is once again, a larger audience by far than any audience for any cable news show. While I'm on the subject, the one late night network news program, Nightline, had an audience of 3.4 million.

And where are most Americans really getting their news from? The networks. Let's have a look at those numbers.

NBC - 8.2m
ABC - 8m
CBS - 6.7m

That's right. 23 million people watch one of the primetime network news casts every night. Which would be, oh, roughly 7 times the audience for the cable news outlets combined.

So, is there an "echo-chamber" (probably mostly right-wing) that exists on the cable news networks? Maybe, but who really cares? The cold hard fact is that nobody is paying attention anyway except for diehard conservative O'Reilly fans, political geeks, and other members of the media. As a result, anytime somebody claims that this "echo-chamber" has the ability to affect public perceptions - let alone elections - they should probably be tarred and feathered, or at the very least, taken with a grain of salt.

Meanwhile, what a candidate really needs to do, if they're worried about how the public perceives them, is try to avoid doing anything thing that can be relentlessly mocked on the late-night talk shows, and SNL, because that audience is a massively larger segment of the American People than all of the cable news shows.

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