December 23, 2005

The IVR Cheat Sheet by Paul English
(Steps to find a human.)

IVRs ("interactive voice response") are the annoying computers that answer phones. They can sometimes be useful (check flight status etc), but consumers should be able to decide when they want to speak with a human, simply by pressing 0. For example, what if the consumer is:
š a senior citizen who does not ever want to talk with computers.
š someone hard of hearing or in a noisy environment or on a bad cell phone connection, where communication with a computer is always more difficult than talking with an actual human.
š someone driving a car who does not want to go back and forth between listening to prompts and pushing buttons.
š someone who knows the IVR system will not help with their current question.

Some IVRs require you first enter your account or social security number. This is also stupid:
š many times after punching in your account number, the human who finally answers asks you to repeat it anyway!
š what if I don't yet have an account number?
š what if I don't have my account number handy?
š what if my question has nothing to do with my account? more...

December 22, 2005

Tom Tomorrow:
Our story so far

Itās been quite a week in the abuse-of-authority department. The NSA story has gotten most of the attention, of course, but letās not overlook the other contenders.

Weāve learned that the Pentagon has been spying on Quakers and gay student groups. Weāve learned that federal agents may visit you if you read the wrong book. And today, we learn that New York City police have been covertly stirring up trouble at protest rallies. more...


Spy on Me. Make my Day!
By Aaron Freeman

I want my daughters to have FBI files. I want them filmed by hostile government agents during mass protests against injustice. If they get lucky, theyāll be tear-gassed; not so much to do damage, just enough to make a good story. Like I was tear gassed as a child.

Just like my mother wanted it.

When I was eight my mother led our whole family into the marches against segregation in Chicago. The FBI spied on us then, too. In the sixties, the Bureau claimed to be looking for ćcommunists,ä now theyāre hunting ćterrorists," but they look for enemies among the same group of Americans: protesters, we who dissent. At civil rights marches there were countless guys in suits taking movies and snapshots of us all. Sometimes it was the FBI, sometimes the Chicago Police Departmentās in-house anti-subversive unit, the Red Squad. My mother taught us to smile a wave at the camera. Even at eight we understood they meant to scare us. I was in Catholic schools at the time so I was well acquainted with the notion of stuff going on my ćpermanent record.ä more...

December 21, 2005

"There is No Democratic Position on the War" Nancy Pelosi's Truth

Every so often a sliver of truth trembles off the lips of one of our elected officials. It doesn't happen all that often, but when it does occur it needs to underscored and highlighted.

Representative Nancy Pelosi gave the antiwar movement an honest reality check last week when she laid out quite plainly the Democrat's position-er, non-position-on the Iraq war. As she told the Washington Post, "There is no one Democratic voice ... and there is no one Democratic position."

In other words, the Democrats will not take a stand on the war and they won't draw up a unified exit strategy anytime soon. And perhaps worst of all, they won't be making the war a major focal point in the upcoming 2006 congressional elections. They'll just continue to argue amongst themselves while more civilians and soldiers perish in Iraq.

The Democrats capitulate, yet again. more...

December 20, 2005

Tom Tomorrow:
That darned liberal media

Conservatives should fall down on their knees every morning and thank their white patriarchal Christian god for the existence of the New York Times. The paper that helped sell the Iraq war via Judy Millerās sterling reportage may also be the paper that helped ensure the re-election of George W. Bush ÷ by sitting on the fact that he was busy committing impeachable offenses until a year after the election. more...

December 19, 2005

Morales' opponent concedes Bolivian election
Official results of the presidential race aren't known

Leftist Evo Morales, a fierce critic of Washington who campaigned on a platform of radical change, seemed headed for a huge victory in Bolivia's presidential contest Sunday after his main opponent conceded defeat.

According to "quick counts," or ballot samplings, commissioned by four Bolivian TV stations, Morales received about 51 percent of the vote compared with about 30 percent for former President Jorge Quiroga, who ran second.

"We have a responsibility to change Bolivia's history," Morales ÷ who has vowed to roll back the U.S.-funded drug war here and hike taxes on foreign energy companies ÷ said in a rousing victory speech. "We must get rid of the neo-liberal (economic) model and our status as a colony." more...

December 18, 2005

Bush's Fumbles Spur New Talk of Oversight on Hill
By Dana Milbank

After a series of embarrassing disclosures, Congress is reconsidering its relatively lenient oversight of the Bush administration.

Lawmakers have been caught by surprise by several recent reports, including the existence of secret U.S. prisons abroad, the CIA's detention overseas of innocent foreign nationals, and, last week, the discovery that the military has been engaged in domestic spying. After five years in which the GOP-controlled House and Senate undertook few investigations into the administration's activities, the legislative branch has begun to complain about being in the dark.


Democrats on the (House Government Reform Committee) said the panel issued 1,052 subpoenas to probe alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration and the Democratic Party between 1997 and 2002, at a cost of more than $35 million. By contrast, the committee under (Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.)) has issued three subpoenas to the Bush administration, two to the Energy Department over nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, and one last week to the Defense Department over Katrina documents. more...

December 17, 2005

The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime
by Gideon Levy

You go to sleep securely in your home. At 1 A.M. you wake up in horror to the sound of a voice on the loudspeaker calling you to go out into the street immediately. After the soldiers instruct you to return home, suddenly a frightening dog enters your apartment, grabs your child, who is sitting on his bed in shock, bites him hard in his leg and drags him down the 20 steps that lead from the second-floor apartment to the street.

Can you imagine the nightmare in which the Kassam family found itself last week in the Jenin refugee camp? It's very doubtful. The members of the family didn't believe it either. Their 12-year-old son, Mohammed, who suffers from epilepsy, shouted with fear, until he fainted. His mother grabbed him by the head, so he wouldn't hit himself on the stairs. His father ran downstairs, helpless, pleading with the soldiers. All the children in the house were shouting in fear. Imagine. more...


An Incredible Day in America
By Martin Garbus

Today, for two separate reasons, has been an incredible day in America. First, the United States has legitimized torture and secondly, the President has admitted to an impeachable offense.

First, the media has been totally misled on the alleged Bush-McCain agreement on torture. McCain capitulated. It is not a defeat for Bush. It is a win for Cheney.

Torture is not banned or in any way impeded.

Under the compromise, anyone charged with torture can defend himself if a "reasonable" person could have concluded they were following a lawful order. more...

(Click on icons to see larger images.)

6th & howard icon
December 23, 2005

sculpture detail
December 22, 2005

sculpture detail
December 21, 2005

mural/grafitti icon
December 20, 2005

jesus cares icon
December 19, 2005

storefront icon
December 18, 2005

mosaic icon
December 17, 2005


August 21, 2004 - August 19, 2005

August 20, 2005 - August 26, 2005
August 27, 2005 - September 2, 2005
September 3, 2005 - September 9, 2005
September 10, 2005 - September 16, 2005
September 17, 2005 - September 23, 2005
September 24, 2005 - September 30, 2005
October 1, 2005 - October 7, 2005
October 8, 2005 - October 14, 2005
October 15, 2005 - October 21, 2005
October 22, 2005 - October 28, 2005
October 29, 2005 - November 4, 2005
November 5, 2005 - November 11, 2005
November 12, 2005 - November 16, 2005
November 26, 2005 - December 2, 2005
December 3, 2005 - December 9, 2005
December 10, 2005 - December 16, 2005

No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003


Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.


This site consists of original photographs and composites by Fletcher Oakes, unless otherwise credited.

Creative Commons License View My Profile

photoblogring | Join | Random | List

Powered by Laughing Squid