February 29, 2008
White House Aide Nailed for Plagiarism
Tim Goeglein, Plagiarist
image source: New York Times
Blogger and former News-Sentinel columnist Nancy Nall discovered the forgery, a column that was largely lifted from an essay by Jeffery Hart that had appeared in the Dartmouth Review. A commenter in Nall's blog discovered another forgery, an column on Hoagy Carmichael that was lifted from a piece by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post
Goeglein has acknowledged one of the forgeries, and the paper has pulled that column.
Goeglein was Karl Rove's right-hand man prior to Rove's departure, responsible for reaching out to conservative and Christian group on behalf of the White House.
It is not known how being unmasked as a plagiarist is going to affect Goeglein's status at the White House. His moral turpitude might appall ordinary Americans, but it is par for the course for the Bush Administration.
February 28, 2008
Cat Macros Go Political: LOLcats 4 Obama
How far can this trend go? At least as far as a John McCain LOLweasel:
Earlier in As I Please:
LOLPRESIDENT!!!1 - President Macro Contest at Fark
February 27, 2008
Top Ten Sexy Ads for Toys and Lingerie
Originally uploaded by
My favorite is the X-ray shopping bag from German lingerie vendor Blush, with honorable mention to Stringfellows' pole-dancer posters affixed to Parisian lampposts.
(via Violet Blue)
February 26, 2008
Animated Map for Gardeners Shows Progress of Global Warming
image source: The Arbor Day Foundation
Hardiness zones are a geographical tool developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist farmers and gardners to choose plants to cultivate that will thrive in their local climate, based upon average annual low temperature. The USDA most recently published its hardiness zone data based on climate data from 1990. The Arbor Day Foundation produced its own hardiness zone data for 2006, based on climate data from the preceding 15 years provided by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
The animated map plainly shows the northward movement of warmer temperatures beween 1990 and 2006.
(via Pat Kight)
As I Please Celebrates Its Fifth Blogiversary
Originally uploaded by ameliatzeni.
Thanks to all my loyal readers — and I continue to be amazed that I have them.
My next milestone will happen next month, when, unless things go very much amiss, I expect to collect my first Google AdSense check.
February 23, 2008
Where Is the Best Place to Stash Your Poker Bankroll?
image source Card Player
So where should you keep your poker bankroll to avoid having it stolen?
SavingsAdvice.com presents a conversation with someone who ought to know the best place to hide money — a burglar! The anonymous burglar speaks from his experience about where he looked first for money and valuables, and where he wouldn't bother looking.
The best place to keep money, the burglar says, is a bank, of course. But if you insist on ready access to your bankroll after hours:
Your best strategy, then, is to actually leave some money in obvious places for the burglar to quickly find (the same applies if you keep all your money in the bank). This can not only save your other stash of money, but may actually keep the burglar from destroying your place as he looks for where you have hidden your money. If they believe they may have found the cash that you have in the house, they are much less likely to keep looking (remember, they want to get out asap). In the end, if you hide all your money well, you may win a moral victory in not letting the burglar find the money, but you’ll likely have much more damage done to your place that will end up costing you more in the long run....
His number one recommendation for money was in toys in a young child’s room. As he explained, young children don’t have money, they have an abundance of toys and most parents don’t trust a child around money. Therefore, parents will rarely hide money there. In addition, when money is hidden, it is usually hidden away neatly and securely — a child’s room is rarely a neat place making it an unlikely place for money to be hidden. Plus with all the stuff in a child’s room, it is not someplace that a burglar can search quickly and get out (rule #2).
If you have a safe, it should be professionally bolted down so it can’t easily be removed. If you leave some token money for the burglar to find in the places they normally look for money, then anyplace you wouldn’t normally consider a place to hide valuables will usually keep those valuables safe. The underside of trash cans, inside laundry detergent, inside false packaging (but only if the packaging appears real and is in the appropriate place - “When you find a Campbell’s soup can in the bedroom, you have a pretty good idea there is money inside”) were some examples he gave.
There's a follow-up post, Don’t Hide Money In The Toilet: More Conversation With A Burglar, in which the anonymous burglar reveals the places he always looked for valuables, because they are the usual places people with something to hide hide them. Don't hide your bankroll in: the resevoir tank for a toilet, a cereal box, anywhere in your refrigerator or freezer, or in or around your bed.
February 22, 2008
The McCain-Iseman Scandal: It's the Influence-Peddling, Stupid
L to R: Charles H. Keating, Jr., John McCain, Vicki Iseman
Scandalmongers and their eager audience are focused on the hints of sexual hanky-panky between John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman. As Mark Klieman points out, however, the real meat of the scandal shows up clearly in Libby Quaid's story that went out over the Associated Press wire yesterday:
In late 1999, McCain twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Florida-based Paxson Communications — which had paid Iseman as its lobbyist — urging quick consideration of a proposal to buy a television station license in Pittsburgh. At the time, Paxson's chief executive, Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, also was a major contributor to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.
McCain did not urge the FCC commissioners to approve the proposal, but he asked for speedy consideration of the deal, which was pending from two years earlier. In an unusual response, then-FCC Chairman William Kennard complained that McCain's request "comes at a sensitive time in the deliberative process" and "could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission's deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties."
McCain wrote the letters after he received more than $20,000 in contributions from Paxson executives and lobbyists. Paxson also lent McCain his company's jet at least four times during 1999 for campaign travel.
In short, McCain intervened with federal regulators on behalf of a major campaign contributor — exactly the same as he did for Charles Keating a decade earlier. That contributor was represented on Capitol Hill by Vicki Iseman. The New York Times article coyly hints that, in McCain's confrontation with aides over his frequent association with Iseman, he "acknowledged behaving inappropriately" with Iseman. The tenor of the surrounding paragraphs implies that the impropriety was a personal one, but Libby Quaid's reporting makes it unambiguously one of quid pro quo influence peddling.
What's more, it's still going on. Today's Washington Post has a front-page story, The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists, detailing the heavy-hitting lobbyist background of McCain's senior campaign advisors, at least some of whom are donating their time to the campaign.
The illicit-sex angle of this scandal may be a complete red herring. In another post, Mark Kleiman quotes a lengthy comment from a female acquaintance who is very familiar with the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.:
It is equally plausible that the McCain-Iseman relationship played out differently: Iseman has a job to do so she cozys up to the Senator, they have a few drinks with a few telecomm guys. They get to know each other and like each other (think Hillary and McCain drinking vodka together and deciding the other is not so bad) — he likes having a cute young lady around who fawns over him, she likes the access.
Now she's found her "in" and exploits it. He continues to like having her around. Both know theres a flirty kind of thing going on but nothing actually ever happens. She hooks him up with people she knows and the beat goes on.
The staff, however, have a different view. They don't care what the boss is actually doing, they're worried about appearance. So they make their move and get her out of the picture. This is problematic for her because access is what keeps her bosses happy. They want to know why they had him on a jet last week and this week she can't go to the office. ...
I'm just really concerned about automatically attacking a young woman who is successful (albeit in a shady industry) for doing her job, which is to get close to these guys. Now true, perhaps her intellect should be driving this equation, but she probably made the decision that she'll play the cards she's dealt. It's her brain that will get her through the situation, but if her brain in a cute dress is what gets her there, so be it. She has a job to do. This is the system that needs to be attacked, rather than attacking every single female blonde lobbyist in town for being a vamp and determining that they must be sleeping with the guy.
February 21, 2008
NY Times: John McCain Possibly Romantically Linked to Lobbyist
image source: Alcalde & Fay
The New York Times reports that Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry, had been often seen with John McCain in the runup to his 2000 presidential campaign, visiting him in his offices, turning up at fund-raisers, traveling with him in corporate jets provided by her clients. The frequency of Iseman's presence with McCain led senior aides to suspect a romantic involvement. They warned Iseman away from McCain, and McCain away from Iseman. The Times reports that in one confrontation between McCain and his aides, McCain "acknowledged behaving inappropriately" with Iseman.
The Washington Post corroborates the story, citing a claim by former McCain aide John Weaver that he met with Iseman and told her to stay away from McCain.
Shortly after the Times broke the story, Iseman's staff biography disappeared from the Web site of Alcade & Fay, Iseman's employer. That biography remains on the Wayback Machine, however.
McCain's response to the story is his usual one to trouble: lying about it. Here is a statement from the McCain campaign:
It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.
Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.
Can anyone believe that John McCain would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously? At least some of John McCain's violations of the public trust are a matter of public record. John McCain did some great big favors for Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings & Loan, and if that is not a special interest then the words have no meaning. The second paragraph has a seed of truth, however: Nothing in this story violates any principles that guide McCain's career, for the simple reason that he has none.
You cannot prove a negative. Hard evidence — incriminating photographs, say, or a strand of her pubic hair entangled in a used condom containing his semen — could conceivably indicate that McCain and Iseman had a sexual relationship; but no evidence in the world can show that they have not.
But there is a very simple thing McCain can do that would convince me that there was no such sexual relationship: If he claimed that he and Iseman had slept together, I could trust that he was lying as usual.
Previously in As I Please
Open Letter to Duncan Black
McCain's Baghdad Market Stroll Evokes Memories of the 1980s
NY Times' Adam Nagourney Whitewashes McCain's Campaign Finance Record
Does Possible John Glenn Endorsement Mean Hillary Clinton Prepares to Battle McCain?
February 19, 2008
Obama Sweeps Pakistan; Clinton Campaign Calls Foul
Voting Irregularities Cloud Obama, McCain Wins
image credit: Lynn Kendall
On the Republican side, John McCain took 71% of the Pakistani vote, with Ron Paul making his strongest primary showing yet with 22% of the vote. Mike Huckabee's weak showing of 6% was expected by analysts, who anticipated that the Baptist preacher faced a tough sell in the Muslim nation.
The Clinton campaign was quick to respond to the loss by pointing out widespread balloting irregularities and allegations of voter fraud. While Obama's margin seems compelling to observers, the legitmacy of his win may ultimately be decided by the credentials committee of the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Study: Fears of Online 'Sexual Predators' Are Greatly Exaggerated
image source: Yello Dyno
Frank Greve, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, quotes Wolak: "Actually, Internet-related sex crimes are a pretty small proportion of sex crimes that adolescents suffer."
The study is based on two surveys of 3000 youths between the ages of 10 and 17, one each in 2000 and in 2005, as well as interviews with 612 investigators at agencies that deal with Internet-related sex crimes involving minors.
- Internet predators are driving up child sex crime rates.
Finding: Sex assaults on teens fell 52 percent from 1993 to 2005, according to the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey, the best measure of U.S. crime trends. "The Internet may not be as risky as a lot of other things that parents do without concern, such as driving kids to the mall and leaving them there for two hours," Wolak said.
- Internet predators are pedophiles.
Finding: Internet predators don't hit on the prepubescent children whom pedophiles target. They target adolescents, who have more access to computers, more privacy and more interest in sex and romance, Wolak's team determined from interviews with investigators.
- Internet predators represent a new dimension of child sexual abuse.
Finding: The means of communication is new, according to Wolak, but most Internet-linked offenses are essentially statutory rape: nonforcible sex crimes against minors too young to consent to sexual relationships with adults.
Finding: Most victims meet online offenders face-to-face and go to those meetings expecting to engage in sex. Nearly three-quarters have sex with partners they met on the Internet more than once.
- Internet predators meet their victims by posing online as other teens.
Finding: Only 5 percent of predators did that, according to the survey of investigators.
- Online interactions with strangers are risky.
Finding: Many teens interact online all the time with people they don't know. What's risky, according to Wolak, is giving out names, phone numbers and pictures to strangers and talking online with them about sex.
- Internet predators go after any child.
Finding: Usually their targets are adolescent girls or adolescent boys of uncertain sexual orientation, according to Wolak. Youths with histories of sexual abuse, sexual orientation concerns and patterns of off- and online risk-taking are especially at risk.
Update: 2-26-08 Here is a PDF of the paper, Online “Predators” and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment by Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor, Kimberly J. Mitchell, and Michele L. Ybarra.
February 16, 2008
Martin Luther King Kept Uhura on Star Trek
Actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek television series, reminisces about her role on the show:
She says that as the first season came to a close, she told Gene Roddenberry that she wanted to leave the show and return to theater. Not long after, she was introduced to Martin Luther King, Jr., at an NAACP event. Dr. King told her of the importance of the show and her role in it to the African-American community, saying she was changing the face of television. Her conversation with Dr. King convinced Nichols to change her mind and stay on the show.
February 14, 2008
High Heels Improve Women's Sex Lives, Claims Researcher
Slingback High Heels
Originally uploaded by shielaannkeller.
In a letter published in European Urology, Dr. Maria Cerruto reported a study of 66 women under the age of 50 in which she found that:
those who held their foot at a 15 degree angle to the ground — the equivalent of a two inch heel — had as good posture as those who wore flat shoes, and crucially showed less electrical activity in their pelvic muscles.
This suggested the muscles were at an optimum position, which could well improve their strength and ability to contract.
The pelvic floor muscles help support abdominal organs in women and men alike. Gynecologist Dr. Robert Kegel developed the so-called Kegel exercises (or "kegels") to strengthen these muscles as a treatment for women with urinary incontenence, and discovered from the reports of his patients that they were experiencing stronger and better orgasms during sex.
Dr. Cerruto claims that women who regularly wear high-heeled shoes can also experienced the sexual benefit of strengthened pelvic floor muscles.
February 13, 2008
Awe-Inspiring Poker Hand Pits Aces vs. Kings vs. Queens
Here is an amazing hand of poker from last year's broadcast of the Party Poker European Open III.
With blinds of $1K and $2k, Dennis O'Mahoney opens the action at $6K to go, holding pocket kings. Darren Hickman has pocket queens and raises $20K.. Achilleas Kallakis goes into a huddle, with pocket aces, eventually deciding to raise all-in with his stack of $66K. Two players acting afterwards fold pocket sevens and pocket fives! Now it's O'Mahoney's turn to put on his thinking cap. Eventually he folds. Hickman calls Kallakis' all-in bet, and the two see a rainbow board of 2-3-K. The turn is a 4, and the river a Q, and Hickman's rivered set of queens crack Kallakis' pocket aces. If O'Mahoney had stayed in the hand he would have won a huge pot, but he had made a good preflop fold.
Just how incredible is this hand? When you think of it, not very. The odds against being dealt pocket aces are 220:1 against. At a six handed table, you expect to see someone dealt aces slightly less often than once in every thirty-seven hands on average. The numbers are the same for kings and queens, so if you neglect card depletion effects, the probability of three players having AA, KK, and QQ are going to be somewhat less than 1/37 cubed, or about one deal in fifty thousand. (At a ten-handed table, it is more like one deal in 10,800).
Now remember that poker has been televised for some years now, and in preparing the broadcast, the producers pick out the interesting hands. AA vs. KK. vs. QQ guaranteed to be interesting, even if — perhaps especially if — one or both of the players holding KK and QQ make good laydowns before the flop. Have there been fifty thousand deals of hold'em hands dealt at tables with card-peeking cameras since the advent of televised poker? I don't know, but I would guess that the actual number is somewhere in that order of magnitude. So it isn't surprising that sometime in the recent history of televised poker this confrontation between AA, KK, and QQ took place. And it's no surprise at all that a poker buff would put it up on YouTube. If you wait long enough in poker, everything is going to happen.
February 12, 2008
UK Court of Appeal Rules Poker Is Not a Game of Skill
Angus MacKenzie reports for Eurosport that the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has determined that luck predominates over skill in the game of poker, and so poker is subject to the regulation of the UK's Gaming Act of 1968.
Derek Kelly was found guilty of breaking the Gaming Act because a club he operated, the Gutshot Private Members Club, charged entry fees for the Texas hold'em poker tournaments it hosted. Kelly appealed, asserting that poker is a game of skill like chess or bridge, and should be treated under the law in the same way. The Court of Appeal heard Kelly's argument, but ruled against him.
The element of skill in poker is the basis of its legality in licensed cardrooms in California.
Had the Court of Appeal ruled in Kelly's favor, this would have opened the way for private clubs to offer poker games and tournaments to their members. As it is, poker is limited to casinos licensed under the Gaming Act.
February 11, 2008
Does Possible John Glenn Endorsement Mean Hillary Clinton Prepares to Battle McCain?
Greg Sargent at TPMElectionCentral cites sources claiming that Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is about to land the endorsement of astronaut and former Ohio senator John Glenn.
This could be a sign that Clinton is looking forward to a general election battle with Sen. John McCain. John Glenn, along with John McCain is a member of the so-called Keating Five, the group of five U.S. senators who intervened with federal banking regulators to get off the case of Lincoln Savings and Loan in return for accepting massive campaign contributions from Lincoln S&L's CEO, Charles Keating.
(John McCain pulled a fast one to rescue his reputaton and career by taking up the cause of campaign finance reform like an adulterer at a tent revival meeting.)
With Glenn in her camp, Clinton is ready to respond in kind if McCain shouts "Activate Corrupt Sleaze Power!" while they battle. She will be even stronger if she can line up the support of Don Riegle and Dennis De Concini as well. (The fifth of the Keating Five, Alan Cranston, is deceased.) Gotta catch 'em all!
The Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal was the signature scandal of the Savings and Loan Crisis, the two-hundred-billion-dollar financial meltdown that plagued the administration of President George H.W. Bush. In a move that prompted many to ask, "What was he thinking?", President Bill Clinton appointed Dennis De Concini to the board of directors of the Federal Home Mortgage Loan Corporation (Freddie Mac). Freddie Mac is now up to its neck in the subprime lending crisis. It would be understandable if this constellation of facts led the more paranoid among us to construct a Grand Unified Theory of political corruption and financial malfeasance.
Previously in As I Please:
Open Letter to Duncan Black
NY Times' Adam Nagourney Whitewashes McCain's Campaign Finance Record
February 10, 2008
Did Maureen Dowd Mistake a Journalist for Michelle Obama?
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, roundly despised for the vapidity of her high-school-clique political journalism, is at the middle of a controversy about mistaken identity involving Dowd, another reporter, and Michelle Obama (wife of presidential candidate Barack Obama):
It all started when Michelle Henery, a columnist for the Times of London, penned a story about her experience in the press room after last week's Democratic debate in Los Angeles.
Henery, who is African-American, wrote that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, "one of my journalistic heroes," approached her, "greeting me like a long-lost friend." Henery was flattered and shocked until "Maureen's sweet smile turned into embarrassed confusion and she scampered off."
The next day, Henery says she e-mailed her friends, who told her that Dowd must have confused her with Michelle Obama, the wife of presidential contender Barack Obama.
Dowd insists that this never happened. She has complained to the Times, and Henery's column has been removed from the Times' Web site.
Is Henery making the story up out of whole cloth? Did she mistake some other red-headed press corps Spite Girl for Dowd? Or is it the case that the Queen of Mean can dish it out but cannot take it, and is covering up her faux pas with a temper tantrum?
It's hard to tell whom to believe. On the one hand, Dowd insists she wasn't where Henery says she was — but Dowd has a past history of lying about where she has been. On the other hand, Henery describes Dowd as "one of [her] journalistic heroes." How can you take her seriously when her judgment is so egregiously bad?
(via Avedon Carol)
February 09, 2008
'Tis the Season for Marshmallow Peeps
2012: Survivor: Easter Island
Originally uploaded by andrea z.
Peep in a Microwave:
February 08, 2008
Police Find Crack in Man's Buttocks
image source: Fox Television Stations, Inc.
The headline reads, "Police: Crack Found in Man's Buttocks." One wonders how they found it. Were the man's trousers riding low on his hips, giving them probable cause to search for the crack?
(via Charlie Stross)
February 07, 2008
What the Heck Is a "Chyron," Anyway?
image source: Welcome to Pottersville
February 05, 2008
Dubai Developers' Plans Resemble Las Vegas
Falconcity of Wonder
No, it isn't Las Vegas, it's Falconcity of Wonder, now under development in Dubai.
Let's see: I can pick out the Venetian, Paris, and the Luxor, but I can't find the Mirage, Bellagio, the Wynn, or Circus Circus. And I have to say: laying the lots out in the shape of a hawk doesn't make up for leaving out the Fremont Street Experience.
And let's just hope that the developers aren't duplicating Las Vegas' housing foreclosure crisis as well.
(via Ellen Kushner)
February 04, 2008
Blogroll Policy Explained
A blog is guaranteed a spot on the As I Please blogroll if and only if the blog's publisher has sex with me. That's the only way you're guaranteed a link. For group blogs, only one co-blogger needs to sleep with me to get that blog on my blogroll. Acceptance of any offer made, and determination of what constitutes "sex" is at my sole discretion. Don't even bother emailing me to ask for a link exchange.
That's the only way to guarantee a spot on my blogroll, but because I'm a generous guy, I also link to blogs whom I mention in my posts, but that's on an arbitrary and ad hoc basis.
February 03, 2008
Don't Watch the SuperBowl With Organizational Psychologists
A group of spectators sat watching a football game. They saw two groups of eleven men facing each other, heard a whistle blow, then suddenly action erupted, followed by another blast of the whistle, whereupon everyone stopped. One of the spectators said, “That was a good draw play, we gained eight yards.” When questioned about his jargon, he said, “Well, the quarterback handed the ball to the fullback, who counted off several seconds, waiting for the opposition to be drawn in, and then crashed into the middle of the line and advanced eight yards before being tackled and stopped. That's what is called a 'draw play.'” Someone asked a second spectator, “What did you see?” “Well,” he replied,”I saw the acting out in different degrees of the needs for aggression and achievement in the players and the effects of how each views himself in relation to the other twenty-one men.” A third spectator said, “I saw eleven men on either side engage in a pattern of coordinated behavior with very well worked out expectations of action for each position in regard to other positions, until these patterns were disrupted by the other side.” A fourth spectator said, “I also saw your role relationship and integrations. But additionally, I saw a leadership structure, which included a man in one position calling signals during the play and a captain exercising some limited authority. I saw a social system of eleven men opposing another social system, each of which was composed of many subsystems and structures like leadership, conflict, plus a coach attached to each system.” A fifth spectator said, “I saw two kinds of traditions: the ritualistic and emotional meaning of a game of this sort and the heightened excitement and tension of this particular game due to the traditional rivalry between these two teams. Both traditions reflect the competitive and peer values of our young adult culture.”
(From Benne, Kenneth D., Robert Chin, and Warren G. Bennis: Science and practice. From The Planning of Change: Readings in the Applied Behavioral Sciences, edited by Warren G. Bennis, Kenneth D. Benne, and Robert Chin, Holt Rinehard & Winston, 1961)
A football game is very like a snake. No, wait — a tree! A wall...?
February 01, 2008
The Guitar Zeros - Music Nerds Turn Guitar Hero Controller Into Real Musical Instrument
I hate Guitar Hero — I think that it takes people with the music-making impulse and channels them away from actually learning the skills that go into making music. Why would I want a fake Stratocaster-shaped Wii controller when I have a real Stratocaster?
But there are people who think the correct response to encountering something that is essentially broken is to fix it. The Guitar Zeros are a band of such people. They took fake-guitar controllers from Guitar Hero and hacked a music-making system based on high-end music synthesis software — in effect, transforming the fake-guitar controller into a real musical instrument.