Sep. 1st, 2010 02:42 pm
acroyear: (vendaface)
BBC News - Original Kermit the Frog puppet given to Smithsonian:
The original Kermit the Frog has been donated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington.

The muppet was donated by creator Jim Henson's widow Jane, along with nine other characters from the 1955 TV show Sam and Friends.

Some of the other muppets in the collection include early versions of Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.

Henson's oldest puppet, Pierre the French Rat, was also donated.

Jane Henson said the original characters provided five minutes of fun each night after the local news where they mostly mimed to popular music.
acroyear: (yeah whatever)
Local VA News from the 'Post:
Three felony burning charges filed against two fire-breathing Herndon bartenders will be dismissed, the Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney said Wednesday, but misdemeanor charges will stand.

Fairfax fire marshals in Jimmy's Old Town Tavern on Elden Street on July 24 witnessed bartenders Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas performing fire-breathing tricks.

The marshals arrested the men and charged them with manufacturing and using an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading and burning or destroying a meeting house, as well as three fire code misdemeanors.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said that two of the charges -- setting a fire and burning a meeting house -- required the bartenders to have malicious intent, which he said he believed didn't exist, and that the manufacturing charge did not rise to the level of a felony.
acroyear: (foxtrot reverse psych)
oik, so i never actually saw that show, but there you go...

US judge in Conn.: Cheerleading not a sport - Yahoo! News:
A federal judge in Connecticut has ruled competitive cheerleading is not an official sport that schools can use to meet gender-equity requirements.

U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill says competitive cheerleading is too underdeveloped.

Wednesday's ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by members of the volleyball team at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. The players sued after the school announced last year that it would eliminate the team for budgetary reasons.

The school replaced it with a competitive cheer squad to stay in compliance with the 1972 federal law that mandates equal opportunities for men and women in athletics.

Quinnipiac has 60 days to come up with a plan to keep the volleyball team and comply with gender rules.
acroyear: (waitaminute)
El Jay Icon Maker officially offline.
acroyear: (number 2 judge)
The Senate actually passed one of those "80% obvious" bills without a fight! Come on, everybody, lets actually cheer them for doing the right thing! [yes, i'm being serious]

AFP: US Senate passes 'libel tourism' bill:
The US Senate on Monday passed a bill to shield US journalists, authors, and publishers from "libel tourists" who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favorable ruling.

The popular legislation headed to the House of Representatives, which was expected to approve it and send the measure to US President Barack Obama to sign into law despite misgivings from key US allies.

Backers of the bill have cited England, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore as places where weak libel safeguards attract lawsuits that unfairly harm US journalists, writers and publishers.

The Senate approved the measure in a "unanimous consent" voice vote.

The bill's supporters have said that "libel tourism" undermines free speech rights under the US Constitution's cherished first amendment, and so erode accountability of powerful figures in a healthy democracy.
Seriously, this is a good thing. A VERY good thing. Libel laws in Britain are totally backwards and almost always favor the plaintiff unfairly, and Europe has increasingly seen big multi-national corporations file suits on European nationals in UK courts in order to guarantee a win that they wouldn't get in other countries.

Now, I'm not totally getting my hopes up that this also means they'd also pass (or extend) this to include the increasing number of foreign nation anti-blasphemy laws which are also a gross affront on free speech, but at least there's progress and recognition that some foreign laws as they apply to US Citizens (and tourists) are just plain wrong.
acroyear: (schtoopid)
Audit: NASA paid $66 per person for 'light refreshments' at procurement confab | person, audit, procurement - News - Northwest Florida Daily News:
The nation's space agency paid the out-of-this-world price of $66 a person a day for bagels, cookies and juice at a conference, a new report found.

The subject of the NASA conference? It was a training session for its procurement officials -- the people who do the buying with taxpayer funds.

During the three-day conference, the 317 attendees snacked on ``light refreshments'' of soda, coffee, fruit, bagels and cookies at a cost of $62,611, according to a NASA Inspector General report. That's $66 a day per person.
acroyear: (schtoopid)
Avis sent me this today:
As a courtesy, we’d like you to know about an important new change that’s taking place for everyone who travels. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has launched a program called “Secure Flight” which will require travelers to provide their full name as it appears on the government issued identification they will be traveling with (i.e. passport, driver’s license) when making airline reservations. With this change, you will no longer be able to travel under an abbreviated name or nickname (i.e. Scott vs. W. Scott, Liz vs. Elizabeth or Bill vs. William).
So once again, innocent travelers who make honest mistakes are going to get harassed, arrested, and in every possible way inconvenienced, while real terrorists (who rehearse and triple-check every dotted 'i' and crossed 't') will continue to move through our airports with near impunity.

Oh, and innocent foreigners who have several different spellings of their names (because the Latin alphabet is rather useless to their languages) will also be screwed.

No wonder nobody wants to enter this country anymore.
acroyear: (car1)
Airports Agency Takes Over Operation of Dulles Toll Road -
The governing body of Reagan National and Dulles International airports officially takes over the operation of the Dulles Toll Road from Virginia on Thursday in what officials say should be a seamless transition for road users.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is managing the construction of the Metrorail extension to Dulles, is using toll revenue from the highway to help pay for the $5 billion project.
The biggest change is that "Metro" police, the police of the airport authority, now have enforcement rights on it, and by extension, probably take an additional cut for every ticket they cite.  Previously, they only had authority on the airport access road, which is why there was always a "cop" there writing tickets for speeders but never a cop on the toll road itself except at night when they were more concerned with drunk drivers.

Thus again is a core principle violated: when a commercial enterprise has an profit incentive to enforce the law by getting a per-citation incentive rather than a flat fee, they will cite more invalid tickets.  This happened in many jurisdictions when the stoplight and speed cameras were installed: the speed cameras were often not calibrated, and the stoplight camera sites all shortened or varied the length of their yellow lights to catch more innocent drivers.

Not looking forward to this...just know on the toll road that the white cop cars are now the ones enforcing speeding laws, not the state police's dark grey cars.
acroyear: (fof not quite right)
In Fairfax County: the Great Outdoors, Sponsored by . . . -
Would Burke Lake lose some of its value if it were named after a hotel chain or a defense contractor? How about if the Super Slide at Audrey Moore RECenter at Wakefield Park suddenly had the corporate logo of a technology or telecommunications firm plastered on it? What if the Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole in Reston were named after a bank, a grocery store or a clothing outlet?

Cash-strapped Fairfax County is looking at whether selling the naming rights of its 24,000 acres of public parks and facilities could pull in enough revenue to offset some of the millions of dollars in budget shortfalls that have hamstrung many county programs and operations.
acroyear: (don't go there)
Virginia Set to Close 18 Rest Stops -
Virginia's major roadways will become a less hospitable place in two weeks when the cash-strapped state closes 18 rest stops, including those in Dale City and Ladysmith.

The closings will leave the long stretch of I-95 between Richmond and Washington without a public toilet for northbound drivers. This is a portion of highway that can be measured in miles -- 105.99 miles, to be precise -- but cognoscenti of traffic mayhem generally prefer to use a watch. On a bad day it can take hours of crawling, and as of July 21 northbound drivers will not have a rest stop to, well, rest in, or whatever else they may need to do.

"We looked at the distance between our rest stops and found we had them as close as 29 miles," said Jeffrey Caldwell, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. "We decided we'd shoot for about 120 miles, or about two hours, between rest stops."

This will save the state agency $9 million against its $2.6 billion revenue shortfall.
I know they say every little bit helps, but this is ridiculous...

on the other hand, by forcing people to do the "guilt" thing and have to buy something at the zillions of fast food joints along that same stretch in order go, that'll increase the tax revenues some.
acroyear: (this is news)
acroyear: (this is news)
  1. the VA House actually passed the smoking in restaurants ban, carried mostly by northern virginia and hampton roads area.  the south, the west, and richmond all voted no.  We'll see how the Senate does, since that's supposed to equalize the regions a bit more and weaken NoVA's influence.
  2. the senate passed a ban on teenagers driving with cell phones.  the AP doesn't say whether or not hands-free is permitted.
  3. Gee, Marion Barry's in legal trouble again over his taxes, where he's accused of not filing his taxes for several more years after his last probation agreement required him to do so.  unrepentant bastard, it seems, and that's what jail is for.
  4. more metro construction on v-day weekend - check wtop for details if your plans including heading into town
  5. MD is considering raising the alcohol tax.  i say go for it.  in this economy, nobody would even try to notice.
  6. Loudoun's talking layoffs for staff
  7. fairfax is still mulling the idea of moving the high school start time.  i'm of mixed minds here
    • i'm one of those whose 8am classes were consistently poorer performing than any other, BUT
    • I'm also a band guy who knows that marching band REALLY needs the time after school to practice and will lose it
acroyear: (they (sam))
Officials find source of fake election flier, won't press charges | |
Calling it a "joke that got out of control," a top state election official today confirmed that the person responsible for a phony election flier circulated in Hampton Roads has been identified.

Law enforcement officials, meanwhile, added that charges will not be filed in the matter.

Year after year after year, false information (almost entirely, but there are exceptions, spread to harass potential Democratic voters) is spread around through junk like this, through robocalls, through lies in websites, to in-person threats door-to-door in minority neighborhoods.

And if you don't charge these people with a crime, which they have committed and admitted to, you're just asking for it to continue forever.

"Oh, yeah, I raped her, but it was just a joke." - if that's not a valid defense, then "it's just a joke" isn't a valid defense here, either.

Intent may be useful in sentencing, but it alone should not be free reign for carte blanche permission to spread bullshit illegally like this.  A crime was committed.  It is up to the courts to decide if there was malicious intent.
acroyear: (do you mind)
McCain sues to force Va. to count military ballots:
RICHMOND, Va. - John McCain's campaign sued Virginia's electoral board Monday, hours before the election, seeking to force the state to count late-arriving overseas military ballots.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to order the State Board of Elections to count any overseas absentee ballots sent by November 4 and received by local election officials as late as November 14.

McCain claims the rights of military voters are protected by the federal Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Rights Act of 1986.

The campaign's complaint says that Virginia military voters posted overseas who support the Republican nominee will be denied their right to vote unless the court grants the order.

No hearing was scheduled by early Monday afternoon.
Now, I am all for ensuring that everybody gets the vote (and it doesn't matter who they support, Democrats should be pulling for this as well if they don't want to admit to hypocrisy).

However, there's one thing in the way: we don't know what the gap is, but we DO know how many absentee ballots are potentially coming in.  So the rules for counting absentees should be just like they always are: if the gap between the first and second is bigger than the total number of absentee ballots, then there's no reason to count them.

If the gap is smaller, than the finals should wait for all of the time the law requires for the absentee ballots to arrive.  If that time is 10 days, then fine.  We wait.

Back in the day, it would be over a month before the country found out who won, 'cause the electoral college actually had to take time to meet with the totals they were given and few states could find out what the other states knew.

On the other hand, I want to know who said that Virginia wasn't going to wait?  Who said what that actually led to the McCain suit in the first place?

Mind you, I do expect the total absentee ballot to be bigger than the gap, because of how many early voters there were (all of whom are technically absentees).

More details:

McCain lawsuit asks federal court to order Va. to count late overseas military ballots --
That lawsuit alleges that ballots for overseas military voters were mailed too late to ensure they are returned by the deadline. Defendants are the chairwoman, vice chairman and executive secretary of the state elections board.

A 1986 federal law requires ballots to be mailed to military voters in foreign countries at least 45 days before the election, which this year would have been Sept. 20. The lawsuit alleges the state didn't have the ballots printed and sent to local officials by then, meaning they may not have been mailed overseas until October.

Ashley L. Taylor Jr., an attorney for McCain, said tens of thousands of oversees military absentee ballots could be voided unless the deadline is extended.

"The last thing you want is to have a service member in Afghanistan or Iraq who received his ballot too late not being able to vote in this election," Taylor said.
Ok, so it appears the 10 day delay is somewhat arbitrary, based on a guestimate of the last postmarked date relative to Sept 20th.  Still, the state should know how many it mailed to military personal and be able to make a decision, AFTER tomorrow's counts (of votes and absentees already submitted), whether or not it needs to wait for any missing votes to arrive.

Technically, VA law says 7pm tomorrow and that's that.
acroyear: (don't go there)
evidence either in the specific individual (as you'll see), and evidence in the general. Being "religious" is not and should never e a magical panacea that suddenly allows one to either declare themselves nor be universally interpreted as being more moral than one who does not practice or believe.

We've had centuries of power abuse by the Catholics, scores of religious civil wars and strife throughout the planet (often among "Christians"), decades of revelations of violence, sex abuse, corruption, and hypocrisies among religious leaders and the political leaders who are supported by them, lies upon lies upon lies in the name of power or money, yet STILL the general populace and the courts (oh, especially the courts) put professed religious belief ahead of any actual evidence of (a)morality when making decisions that affect children's lives.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: New Ruling on Religion and Custody:
I've got a friend in New York who just went through this and I'm gathering all the legal documents to publicize that case. The outcome was beyond outrageous. The mother, who had full custody during the divorce and custody fight, lost custody because the father would make the child attend church while the mother would not.

This despite the fact that the father had multiple drunk driving arrests and even admitted under oath that he still drove with the child in the car after drinking. This also despite the fact that he had a history of violence, enough to warrant a personal protection order granted to the mother. But the judge felt that raising the child in a "Christian" environment trumped all of that.
Mitt Romney recently did a speech that absolutely disgusted me and pretty much anyone who believes that the Constitution was extremely specific in declaring that no religious test should be required for office.  In order to diffuse all the negativity he was (and still is) receiving over his Mormonism, he openly declared all atheists and agnostics to be the real enemies in order to win back support - the only way for "Christians" to stop hating (well, postpone it, really) other "Christians" is to declare that all "non-Christians" are the enemy.  And if you can't get away with openly declaring yourself anti-semitic or anti-islam (which they often are), you simply go for the one target that isn't "politically correct" and has no extended history of defending their rights.

Romney declared a new war of hate and that the media praised him for it, and that disgusts me.

Note: I'm not saying that Huckabee's stunt last week, where he said "I won't run this anti-Romney ad" loudly and publicly so that the media would run it for him and get his message out while his hands stay clean, was any better - it was simply more of the same hypocrisy and it strikes me as really odd that the media so lapped it up that they don't realize just how badly they are being abused and manipulated.

This pretty much sums it up for me...


By the way, Ron Paul is *hardly* any better - he doesn't support or accept evolution, is anti-immigrant and isolationist, and in the name of "freedom" would allow quack "medicine" to advertise and promote itself with impunity, and that's just the crap I can confirm...

Maybe later, I'll write up why none of the Democratic Party candidates are any better...
acroyear: (this is news)
UFO science key to halting climate change: former Canadian defense minister - Yahoo! News:
A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change, a local paper said Wednesday.

"I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet," Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.
  1. why the hell is this front page news on Yahoo?
  2. why the hell isn't there a single line from a (normal) ufo skeptic going "what the fuck?"


acroyear: (Default)
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