29 November 2010

Fixing a leak

Interesting times.

A new week, and a new pile of stuff for Wikileaks to publish to the world at large. This latest batch consists of diplomatic cables and State Department documents that covers the gamut from impressions of world leaders, to what to do about Iran, to discussions with Yemen and Pakistan regarding the effects of gravity, rocketry, and explosives on various and sundry scumbags.

Part of me isn't surprised by some of the 'revelations'. Missile attacks on terrorists in Yemen? I rather thought that fell into the 'open secret' category. The Arabs and Israel want us to Do Something about Iran? The Arabs and Israel could do the job themselves together. It's the Middle East. A backalley deal could be cut there. Israel could provide the hardware and the Arabs could have convenient radar malfunctions. Plus, the desert is a big place and the sneaky Zionists could always 'steal' a supply depot or create an airfield in the emptiness. The German chancellor is 'unimaginative'? She grew up a functionary in East Germany's communist system. What would you expect? Spying on the diplomats in the UN? Please. That's what people do there. I suspect every nation with spies better than Maxwell Smart has databases and dossiers on every major world leader and senior diplomat squirreled away somewhere. How else are you going to 'convince' the Supreme Leader of Bugfuckovia to give you basing rights it you don't have pictures of him in flagrante delicto with a platypus?

Nor do I have a particular axe to grind with Mr. Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. I do think that his days on this planet are becoming numbered. If he's hidden away, he might want to stay that way. To be honest, he looks like a little twerp who thinks it's cute to twist a few tails. Now, I'm not saying that anyone in this country would order a hit on him. I'm also not saying they wouldn't. He has, however, brought to light activities of leaders of nations that aren't so picky on the legal niceties and wouldn't be above sending a couple of gentlemen to visit upon him the usual array of punishments reserved for little twerps who don't realize they're not pulling a prank on the university dean. This is the big leagues. Oh well...

I do, though, have issues with the alleged leaker of many of the Iraq/Afghanistan/Diplomatic documents, one Specialist Bradley Manning, US Army and possible disgrace to the uniform. Born to an American father and an English/Welsh mother, he was able to obtain an intelligence analyst billet, making him privy to all sorts of interesting information.

The Army plainly screwed up when doing the background check for Specialist Manning. His dual nationality should have made him ineligible for any kind of intelligence job-too easy to be co-opted by the other country. He is supposedly homosexual. That should also be a down-check due to the perceived 'shame' and 'dirt' another nation's intel assets could dig up on him or her. One could argue that a change of official policy regarding gays in the military would negate that, but that's a topic for another time.

I'm not sure if Spec. Manning got all of this material himself. I suspect a lot of people contributed (knowingly or unknowingly) little bits and pieces, which were assembled like a jigsaw puzzle to arrive at the complete document. I AM sure that I'm tired of the culture of leaks that seems to be the norm in this country.

I could argue that Specialist Manning committed espionage by divulging confidential documents to a foreign entity. You might say 'That's your opinion, YD.'

Read on. This is from the United States Code of Military Justice:

906a. ART. 106a. ESPIONAGE

(A) (1) Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any entity described in paragraph (2), either directly or indirectly, any thing described in paragraph (3) shall be punished as a court-martial may direct, except that if the accused is found guilty of an offense that directly concerns (A) nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large scale attack, (B) war plans, (C) communications intelligence or cryptographic information, or (D) any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy, the accused shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court- martial may direct.

(2) An entity referred to in paragraph (1) is--

(A) a foreign government;

(B) a faction or party or military force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States

(C) a representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen of such government, faction, party, or force.

(3) A thing referred to in paragraph (1) is a document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance or information relating to the national defense.

Hmm. The UCMJ seems to be fairly comprehensive on this.

And what is the punishment for espionage under the UCMJ?

(b) (1) No person may be sentenced by court-martial to suffer death for an offense under this section (article) unless--

(A) the members of the court-martial unanimously find at least one of the aggravating factors set out in subsection (c); and

(B) the members unanimously determine that any extenuating or mitigating circumstances are substantially outweighed by any aggravating circumstances, including the aggravating factors set out under subsection (c).

(2) Findings under this subsection may be based on--

(A) evidence introduced on the issue of guilt or innocence;

(B) evidence introduced during the sentencing proceeding; or

(C) all such evidence.

(3) The accused shall be given broad latitude to present matters in extenuation and mitigation.

So Spec. Manning will get a long stretch in Leavenworth making sand out of rocks. But if the court-martial board thinks the situation requires it:

(c) A sentence of death may be adjudged by a court-martial for an offense under this section (article) only if the members unanimously find, beyond a reasonable doubt, one or more of the following aggravating factors:

(1) The accused has been convicted of another offense involving espionage or treason for which either a sentence of death or imprisonment for life was authorized by statute.

(2) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of substantial damage to the national security.

(3) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person.

(4) Any other factor that may be prescribed by the President by regulations under section 836 of this title (Article 36).

The possibility does exist that Specialist Manning could swing from the end of a short rope. The conditions under which the capital punishment can be inflicted are a bit more arbitrary under the UCMJ.

'But what about his civil rights, YD? His right to free speech?'

My understanding is that when one signs the papers to join the service, one signs away some of the rights one enjoys as a civilian. Military law applies, and it's a bit more strict.

I remember reading about Oleg Penkovskiy. He was in the Soviet GRU (Foreign Counterintelligence Service) and passed along information about the USSR's nuclear arsenal and that the USSR was going to place missiles in Cuba. He may have provided President Kennedy enough information to stare down the bad-mannered hillbilly fucking Ukrainian in the Kremlin (sorry-learned about Soviet minorities from a fellow from Leningrad a few years back). He may have saved the world from destruction in those dark days of 1962. His motives were good. It didn't save him from a trial for treason and espionage, a probable round of beatings in Lubyanka, and a 7.62 x 39 headache/forced retirement (or cremation alive, if you believe certain accounts). Brutal. But it is a deterrent to those who think that spilling secrets is 'cute'.

Personally, I think it might be necessary for some of these leakers to suffer the ultimate price for shooting off their mouths indiscriminately. The country needs to learn the difference between what needs to be exposed for the national good and what needs to be left quiet for reasons of security or diplomatic confidentiality.

But I'm not the President. And you ought to be glad of it.

I dedicate this song to all the Julian Assanges and Bradley Mannings of the world. Enjoy.

yankeedog out.

28 November 2010

The assault of charity

Ah. Another Thanksgiving weekend done and time to get back into the swing of things. Everything went surprisingly well-kind of busy and kind of quiet. And the Bears held off the Eagles 31-26 this week in what I consider to be a test of how good the Orange and Blue are. The Bears actually managed to look like an NFL team this week and go to 8-3 on the season. OK. I'll bite. Bears to win the NFC North and (possibly) sneak a playoff win. You heard it here first.

With the onslaught of the Christmas season comes the onslaught of charities. We get it here in the States and I'd bet you overseas readers have the same thing. Every disease that has a fund sends mail or calls during supper or during the last two minutes of a close basketball game. You can't help but run into the Salvation Army kettles and bell ringers in front of every store (the Salvation Army is easy to ignore-the Salvation Marines, now, they're tough and don't take 'I have no cash' for an answer!). Disabled vets, stray animals, dysfunctional countries, churches-they all want a piece of your time and your paycheck. I think this may be part of why the holidays are depressing to some. If you think about it, there are a lot of worthy causes, but only so many spare dollars in pocket. Trying to fix everything is like trying to move Lake Michigan one eyedropperful at a time. It can't be done, and about the best you can do is pick a few causes your heart is close to (and have organizations that are accountable) and do what you can for them.

A dilemma I just can't seem to work out in my mind is giving to and for children-and not because YD hates kids. I've seen a lot of little boys and girls wandering around in the winter dirty, in ragged clothes and lightweight coats that aren't even close to being good enough to keep the Midwest chill away.

The part I have a problem with is that their older relatives-some would call them 'parents' but that certainly doesn't seem to be appropriate considering most of them couldn't train hamsters-always seem to have money for smokes, beer, and a fancier cell phone than mine, all the while collecting aid from the government.

Bloody sucks. We're all supposed to sacrifice a bit so you lazy bastards can game the system because you know no one wants to see children go without.

Don't get me wrong. There are people who are down on their luck. In this economy, we've got a lot of that going around. There are people who are making just enough on some job to keep their head above water with some assistance. Fair enough. Those aren't the ones I'm talking about. Those are the ones I'd prefer to help given a choice.

But that doesn't help the kids who can't help who their older relatives are, does it?

I'd be satisfied if someone would provide me a sock filled with sand. I'd give all those kids a decent meal, a good outfit or two, and a toy or two for Christmas. Then we should be able to whack the older relatives on the head with the sock full of sand and tell them to get with the program and try raising their kids instead of letting all of us do their job for them. I'd feel a lot better, and I'd bet most of you would too.

That's my holiday Catch-22 moment. I seem to be accumulating some topics for the week, and I reckon I'll get to them.

yankeedog out.

23 November 2010

Just half a week this week

Not much to say here of late-something of the calm before the Holiday storm.

Spent the weekend on a bit of R&R, culminating in going to the theater to see Monty Python's Spamalot. It's something of a musical takeoff on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and it was an enjoyable enough show. The cast had studied a lot of the Pythons, I'd guess, because they nailed most of the accents and mannerisms of the troupe. Recommended seeing if you can!

Getting ready for Thanksgiving here. As usual, TBH and I will take her mom and her mom's fellow out for a buffet dinner. By 2:30 pm we'll be done and I can watch the NFL and digest. The rest of the weekend appears to be packed. I'm NOT, however, going out shopping on Friday. Screw that. We'll go see my clan that day.

Welp, reckon that's about it for now.

yankeedog out.

16 November 2010

You want HOW MUCH?!?

Interesting bit of off-season Cubs news. Seems new Cub owner Tom Ricketts wants to add improvements to Wrigley Field. I have an idea on how to improve the place, and it involves a B-52 and a stick of GPS-guided bombs. Clear out the debris afterward and build a decent ballpark with parking.

Seriously, though, the place was built in 1914 (I know this because the last hot dog I bought there may have dated from that very year) and desperately needs work to provide decent facilities for both the players and the fans. I've toured the park, including the player clubhouses, and I know they've shoehorned in about everything they can into the place.

The Ricketts family have a list of things they want and/or need to do, and the bill comes out to a cool $300 million dollars. They want the State of Illinois to float a bond issue to raise money to do this.

Say what?

Tom, have you not seen the state's budget? Did you not watch any of the election commercials? We're $15 billion in the hole! Where's the state going to come up with any dough?

Governor Quinn, on the strength of his 9,800 vote 'mandate of the people' (out of the million or so votes cast-that ain't a 'mandate' unless only 10,000 people vote) has already promised tax increases for all of us here, so I think the Rickettses picked precisely the wrong time to ask for a handout.

And why should everyone in Illinois pay for renovations to what is essentially private property, anyway?

Did the Ricketts family not walk through Wrigley Field before they bought the Cubs? Geez, anybody buying a house knows enough to do that. I could've told you all you needed to sink a boatload of money into the place to get it into the 1980s, let alone the 21st century! Maybe you should have negotiated a few hundred mill out of the Tribune when you bought the Cubs to help pay for the work.

And when did sports franchise owners take to going hat in hand to the state governments any time they want a new stadium or upgrade their old one? Well, I know the answer to that-why spend your own money when you can spend someone else's?-but, really, this is getting old. I'm not sure how many times an owner can say 'We'll leave town if you don't give us what we want.' If that team has been bad forever, I'd say 'Don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out.' The old-time owners spent their own money to build their parks.

I hate hearing the owner of any major sports franchise cry 'poor'. Way I see it, if you can't afford a team, get out of the game. And I'll say it here to the Ricketts clan: 'You guys bought a Major League Baseball team that generates a lot of money. Most of you went to college here in Chicago and spent time at Wrigley as students. Didn't you see the park was a dump? You had nearly a billion to invest in this team. If you can't afford the necessary reno's, then sell the team to someone who can.'

Maybe they could-and this might be a dumb idea-actually go to one of big banks in Chicago-there are several-and borrow the money to make the improvements! That's kind of the way all the rest of us have to pay for home improvements, after all. I bet a big bank might even give you a favorable interest rate if you offered them naming rights to the renovated stadium.

The state government, in a fit of sense rarely seen here, is somewhat lukewarm to spend money they don't have for something they won't get much return on. Finally.

One wonders if raising ticket prices isn't the way to go. That way, only the fans have to pay for the big fix, instead of everyone in Illinois. I personally would hate to see ticket prices go up $10 each, but it's my choice to go to the game.

We'll see how this plays out. I suspect not well for Cubs ownership.

yankeedog out.

13 November 2010

Interesting interests

I was walking through the bookstore the other day and came across the latest issue of Model Railroader. The cover caught my interest so I picked up the mag to read more about the featured layout. It's a pretty detailed layout, based on a large Eastern city in the immediate postwar era. I found a few pictures around the 'net, so I thought I'd post them here:

Good work, yeh? Very nearly like photos of, say, the 1948 version of New York or Chicago. Quite a lot of detail-and details set apart the good layouts from those of us who nail the store-bought train set tracks down to a 4'x8' sheet of plywood.

I removed the color from this railroad yard scene, and it looks just about like the real thing. It would be exactly like the real thing if there was coal smoke coming out from some of those steam engines.

Turns out this is the Three Rivers City Railroad, belonging to one Roderick D. Stewart.

Yeah, that Rod Stewart.

It seems that in addition to being a former glam-rocker turned crooner with a storied list of hot-and-cold running women, Mr. Stewart is an avid model railroader. I read the article, and he really does know his stuff about studying light patterns, architectural styles, and how they interact. He built a lot of the buildings in the layout himself, and I have to say he's really done a damn good job in portraying the late '40s setting.

Now, he does have some advantages given that he's sitting on a lot more money than most of the rest of us. He does have plenty of help with the construction, wiring, and rural scenery, and it appears he has an informal 'club' (most likely of fellow celebs with the same desire to run the trains), so it isn't a complete solo effort. But what he has done himself is impressive work.

I don't know why, because I don't really care all that much about celebrities, but I find that seeing a megastar that has the same dumb hobbies and interests that a lot of us great unwashed have is kind of refreshing. You always hear about the rockstar lifestyle, so I never really gave much thought to the idea that, yeah, down inside, some of the big stars aren't any different than the rest of us.

I'm not a huge fan of Rod Stewart's music (not the worst, just not quite my taste for the most part) and I'd probably not pay to see him if he came to the I-Wi for a concert.

It wouldn't matter, because I'd probably see him in the local hobby shop buying building kits for his railroad.

Some celebrities are as well known for their offscreen interests as their movie or TV work, of course. We all know about John Travolta's airplane collection and piloting skills. Most of us might at some time get a minute or so of stick time if we know someone that has a Cessna. Travolta has a four-engine Convair jet all done up in 1960s QANTAS markings (and QANTAS may need to lease his bird if they keep blowing gaskets on those A380s) and he's rated to fly multi-engine commercial. Same with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. Jay Leno has a car collection most auto museums would love to get their mitts on, and from everything I've read, he knows his way around most automotive systems.

Another example of a celebrity with an 'incongrous' hobby is actor Vin Diesel, action movie star. And as a teenager, a Dungeons and Dragons player. One pictures Diesel with a bunch of pudgy, pockmarked budding grognards: 'My Level 2 Deodorant Grenade negates your Spell of Stinkiness, Riddick!' It just doesn't quite seem right, but there it is.

Can't forget Alice Cooper. In the 1970's, the master of shock rock. Now, golf fanatic. And from all I've ever heard from interviews on the radio, he sounds like just 'one of the guys'-a rare commodity these days.

Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling is a World War II history buff and wargamer, with a fondness for the old paper wargame Squad Leader. Not as nice a guy as Alice Cooper, from what I've heard.

King Abdullah of Jordan. Star Trek fanatic. He was actually on an episode of Voyager in a non-speaking role.

Tom Hanks' hobby is collecting old typewriters. Ohhh-kay...

A lot of celebs go to sporting events in LA, Chicago, New York, and Miami, mostly, I'd guess, To Be Seen. Drew Carey still can be sighted watching his hometown teams back in Cleveland, Ohio. That's a real sports fan, kids, to sit through the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers games!

So that's this week's issue of 'Celebrity Hobbies'. There are a bunch of others I haven't gotten into. Anyone famous that you know of with a hobby or collection or interest that you wouldn't picture them having? Sound off!

yankeedog out.

11 November 2010

11/11 thoughts and ponderings

First, as is the tradition here on Veteran's/Remembrance day, thanks to all the vets, past and present, American and allied, all who served in peace and war. Without your efforts the world is a much darker place.

Also as usual, the Armed Forces Medley. You can watch it or not as you wish.

And a piece from north of the border. A bit long, but I think it captures something of the feel of the day.

But as I look around the nation today, I wonder if we didn't sell our vets out. The place is a mess. $14 trillion in debt. A weak economy. Not a lot of decent jobs out there for people to make a living. Two political parties, one thinking we need to adopt the socialist system, the other thinking George Washington climbed Mount Katahdin and received the Constitution from God Himself. And for the most part, I wouldn't let most of our leadership run a hot dog stand. We have a surfeit of politicians, and an appalling lack of statesmen (on both sides).

The power and influence we used to have in the world seems to be a pale shadow of what it once was. Yes, we have enough firepower to remove a good portion of life on Earth, but we've become a nation that most nations generally ignore. We're the biggest foreign aid donor on the planet ($66 billion of direct government aid in 2007, I don't know, maybe $15 billion in private aid and who knows how much volunteer time), giving vast sums to people that by and large I think would rather see us gone.

It almost feels like we're drifting aimlessly as a nation. We have no goal-no frontiers to conquer, no race to the moon, no Axis to defeat. We have plenty of things we could do, and no political will to do them.

I miss my country, the place that once was or maybe never was. I miss the America where a man could get a decent job and provide for his family. I miss the America where people could worship how they wanted and let others worship in their own way. I miss the America where people valued hard work, self-reliance, and thrift, and hated to take charity. I miss the America that wasn't fueled by greed. I miss the America where a person could start his own business and not have it regulated to death by those who never had to make a deadline or meet a payroll. I miss the America where people could walk around at night, and criminals were punished instead of their victims. I miss the America that could dream, build, and create.

In many ways I feel like I'm part of the last generation of Americans. I have the sick feeling that I'm watching the beginning of the end of this nation. It might be that this is the Chinese Century after all. Perhaps they'll be kind enough to us to let us fade like the British empire did, and not repossess the country.

I don't know, really. I'm just a simpleton Midwest river rat who in all probability has a very small and parochial worldview. Quite possibly in addition to thanking our veterans, we should apologize to them for screwing up the land that they fought for. I wonder if there were any Romans that scribbled something on parchment a couple of millenia ago that might have been similar to this?

yankeedog out.

07 November 2010

Got a spare locomotive lying around?

A few weeks back, I posted pictures of a tricked-out, civilian version of the Soviet BRDM light armored car.

I think it's been topped by a project that any of us could do. All you need is a few dollars, a little ingenuity, some duct tape...and a surplus locomotive.

The above is the Izaak Walton Inn, near Essex, Montana. The inn was built in the late 1930s by the Great Northern Railroad as a stop and destination hotel to Glacier National Park in northern Montana. It's still a full service resort, and a stop for Amtrak's Chicago-Seattle Empire Builder-the track, after all, is only a few hundred feet from the front door. A beautiful locale in winter and summer, it would appear. I've never been there. I must remedy that sometime.

The big blue and white engine started life as an F45 on the Santa Fe railroad, 'round about 1970. The F45s served on freight service, and its sister FP45s were used on the last of the pre-Amtrak passenger trains. The '45s were mostly out of service by the end of the decade on the big roads. Cowlbody units are a maintenance nightmare, with no room in the engine compartment to do any heavy work, and not good ergonomics for the locomotive crews. My dad was a machinist on the Milwaukee Road, and he used to cuss every time an F or FP came into the roundhouse. Try removing a broken crankshaft-as those engines were prone to do-with limited access. It can be done-anyone who ever served as a machinist's mate or chief engineer on a diesel-powered submarine has done some heavy work in a small space-but it isn't much fun.

Seems one of these were found on a short line railway in Utah serving out its last days. So what does one do with a well-used, fuel-guzzling, third-generation, diesel locomotive?

Simple, really. Make a cabin out of it.

I read the story of GN 441 in the latest issue of Trains magazine, and that article went into a lot greater detail of how the engine started out life in the Southwest on the ATSF, and ended up in a luxury resort in Montana. If you want to read more, look it up.

The locomotive was stripped out and repainted in the snazzy black, white, and Big Sky Blue of the Great Northern before the 1970 merger that created the Burlington Northern. I remember seeing some of these go through town, pulling the old Empire Builder up the Burlington along the Mississippi. It was an eye-catching scheme, quite classy.

So the big, troublesome 16-cylinder diesel was removed, the interior stripped to the structure and cowl panels, and a new interior was designed:

And what does it look like inside, you ask?

Not too shabby, I think. I could spend a weekend here easily enough. And at $230/night and a two night minimum, it should be top-flight.

The control cab was cleaned up and left in, along with the old electrical panel. I'd bet the kids have a great time playing with the throttle and pushing all the buttons and switches. A nice touch-

-though I've never, ever, seen a locomotive cab that clean! Everything on a railroad has a quarter-inch of grease on it and smells of diesel fuel.

Finally, a view out the picture window where the old engine access doors were:

Cool, eh? And for a half-mill or so, you could do the very same thing! I have to say that I've seen cabooses (that's 'guard vans' for you Oz folks) turned into homes and cabins, and a school bus can be converted into a portable tailgate party bus or rolling hunting/fishing camp,  but this is a first-a locomotive into a luxury cabin!

The pictures are courtesy of Railpictures.net and the Izaak Walton Inn website.

I now know where I'm going to spend a few days-once I win the lottery, that is.

Speaking of railroads-got a question for the Australians/NZers that visit here.

On a two-track line there, do the trains run in the same direction as your highway traffic, as shown below?

Just curious. Here the rail traffic flows like our highway traffic (the arrows would be flipped), except for the part of the Union Pacific that used to be the Chicago and North Western RR, where the trains run like the picture shows. I've heard this is because British interests helped fund the CNW in the 1800s, but that could be a load of crap. Though I did read it on the 'Net, so it must be true.

yankeedog out.

04 November 2010

Yarrr! Here be pirates...

Our temp designer's little boy likes the old 1966 Batman TV series (and really, who doesn't. Great camp series.), so our guy's been trying to find the series on DVD. After a look around online, he found a store that did indeed have it. Ordered it up and waited for UPS to send some classic comic book superhero TV.

And waited. A check of status indicated that his order shipped from Beijing, China.

Uh oh. That hint of scarlet is the first red flag being run up the flagpole.

He got his Batman boxed set. 16 discs-in what appears to be a videocassette box. The box cover looks like it was done by a five-year-old and run off on a mimeograph. The DVDs have cheap decals glued on them, and someone actually wrote the disc number on with a ballpoint pen! The store does say that the DVD sets are 'custom crafted'.

They also say that the DVD's will work equally well in all regions. This is true. They don't work on ANY DVD player. He got one to run from his DVD burner and he snapped a picture of the title screen for us to see. The screen has a picture that honest to God looks like someone ripped out of a Batman comic. Special features? Noooo. Just a 'Play All' button.


I got a good laugh out of this, but not at our guy for getting taken. Rather, it was the just horrible quality of this particular bunch. Good God on a bicycle. You pirates, take a little pride in your work! Turn out a product that has a little bit of production value. At least make the DVD case look good. Even a crap computer would help you do better than what I saw.

I'd love to see these people try to do counterfeit money. They'd probably run off an enlarged copy of a Monopoly dollar, stick a picture of Bill Clinton on it, handwrite 'THE UNTIED STATES OF AMERICA' (that was the spelling I meant) on the top, and call it good.

I hope he can get his money back (if he did the transaction with Paypal, he might. Fat chance from the store). Hell, I hope this bunch don't steal his credit/debit card number to clean him out. Of course, the website has no physical address, just a page to request an email response.

Amazing places countries like India and China must be. High-tech factories making electronic stuff that we buy, right alongside several hundred million people turning out complete and utter and in many cases illegal crap in their hutung factories. One hopes their military equipment is built by the latter and not the former.

I don't know it I should use my blog to be a consumer advocate. It probably isn't my place to say anything good or bad about someone's particular enterprise. So I won't strongly advise you to steer clear of Epic DVD Store if you should run across it in your travels and shopping in cyberspace. And I don't know any of the parties involved with the company, so I can't really in good conscience call them a bunch of minor-league copyright pirates. Did I say pirates? I meant parties. Damn dyslexia... And I don't speak Latin, so I'm not quite sure I know the meaning of caveat emptor.

Just another reason to be doubly careful when doing online shopping, especially with the holidays coming up.

yankeedog out.