Thursday, May 25, 2006

Microsoft assures virus-building community that new OS will be released soon

In a major attempt to boost its sagging public image among members of the hacker and virus-building communities, Microsoft has issued a public statement saying that the late delivery of its new operating system Windows Vista will be completed on time.

Computer hackers and writers of malicious code damaging to computers running on the Windows operating system account for over 25% of Microsoft's revenues from the sale of its operating systems. However, the hacker and virus-builder communities, most members of which depend on Microsoft for the satisfaction of their anarcho-destructive fantasies, have lately been unhappy with the company's inordinate delay in releasing the latest flavor of Windows, called Vista.

"There's only so many ways in which Windows XP can be taken apart and put back in one piece, and I've gone through them all", said a prominent virus creator, known in the cyber underworld as King Byte. "We have been eagerly awaiting the new operating system which, as Mr Gates has promised us, will contain a number of feature-rich security holes for us to identify and have fun exploiting. The only question is, when will the damn thing be here?"

Many hackers, after waiting for more than a year in frustrated anticipation, have decided to switch to Unix instead. "Even though Unix offers more challenges even for the experienced cyber-terrorist, it is a relatively unexplored terrain, and hence, is sure to have far greater entertainment and educational value. Also, we believe that Microsoft will not take our demand for releasing Windows Vista seriously unless we demonstrate our willingness to switch brand loyalty.

On being asked for a comment, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates quickly penned an email in Outlook 2007 and sent it to reporters, only to be informed that it was infected with the virus BillSuck and could only be cleaned by formatting his hard drive.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The blogospheric whispering game

When I was a little kid, there was this game we used to play called, what could be loosely translated into English as "ear-stories". The premise of the game was as follows : A bunch of kids sat around in a circle. The game would begin with a randomly chosen kid whispering a sentence into the ears of the kid to his left. This kid would, in turn, whisper whatever it was that he had thought he had heard from the previous kid and regurgitate it into the ears of the kid to his left. And so on and so forth, till the game returned back to the kid who had been the original source of the sentence. The huge entertainment value of the game lay in the hilarious metamorphosis the sentence would undergo as it was filtered through several juvenile ears. Usually, the end product was nowhere close to the original sentence that had initiated this daisy-chain of whispers.

The reason I bring this up is because today, with the countless number of blogs, self-appointed commentators and news dispersers, the media has turned into a huge game of "ear-stories" that metamorphoses the facts of the original story into something totally different. Take, for example, this piece of news which details Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's plans to incorporate guided propulsion, remote controlled weaponry and unmanned vehicles into army operations using robotic technology. This news was linked to by this blog, where the blogger actually stayed pretty close to the original story but titled his blogpost "Indian PM promises Robot Army" and at the end, attached his own addendum, saying

High tech weapons development to start a 'virtuous circle which benefits all'? Hmmmm. Could there be some unintended consequences of this plan?

This blogpost, was then, in turn, picked up by this blog, where the author not only named his post "India announces plan to develop robot army", but also added his own 5 cents worth of fictional commentary, saying :

In an announcement that you can probably expect to be repeated by rival Pakistan in the next few days, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has claimed that his South Asian nation will be the latest country to pursue technologies for developing a robotic army.

In addition, this enterprising blogger attached a picture of robots obtained from who knows where, and which are nowhere to be found on the original article.

And finally, this delicious black forest cake of misinformation was topped off with icing today morning on the radio channel WMMR Philadelphia, whose morning show anchors, Preston Elliott and Steve Morrison read this news on-air in their Bizarre Files segment as fact, along with a liberal dose of the customary ridicule that usually accompanies anything that makes it to that segment.

Reading this article, the image one conjures up in one's mind is that of an army of bronze clunky robots battling it out in the icy mountain ranges of the northwest, probably issuing orders to one another in a metallic funny Indian accent, the same one that has achieved quite a bit of popularity in the US comedy circuit. Plus, what could be more ridiculous than a third world country with limited resources opting to spend them on a science fiction project involving fighting robots?

But read the original article closely, and you'll realize not only does it not contain any reference to a robot army, but as a commenter pointed out, the Prime Minister enumerated various proposals for the modernization of the Indian army, a number of which have already been implemented by the American military. And no, I don't think I have seen any robots on television, engaging in hand-to-hand combat in the bloody streets of Iraq, so I'm guessing we won't see any robots fighting in the Himalayas either.

PS : As an aside, notice how the comments in the last blogpost steadily and puzzlingly deteriorate into a debate on reservations. It's actually quite amusing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

From one religious fanatic to another

Dear Muslim Fundamentalist Brother,

Salam Waleikum. Let me get straight to the point. I am disappointed in you, my brother. Truly, truly disappointed. Here I was, sitting at my desk, gazing at the "Divine Eye of God" that brings me news from all over the world, or as these Americans call it for whatever reason, a "computer screen" , I realized that while I've been distracted by things urgently requiring my attention such as protesting the release of Deepa Mehta's "Water" here in the US, you've been forming some unholy alliances on your own. You've been getting together with those Jesus people and forcing the Indian government to ban "The Da Vinci Code" in theaters. I was appalled when I read this piece of news. Do you not realize the folly of your actions? Let me explain.

As you well know, you and I, we have both had our differences. Throughout the ages, we've been inflicting violence and bloodshed on each other because frankly, look, both our communities blame each other for all their problems. Plus, I know for a fact that your despotic set of beliefs do not coincide with those sanctioned by God, and I also know that you've had the same thoughts about mine. And we've both agreed that the best way to resolve this dispute is to eliminate each other from the face of the planet. No believers = no beliefs. Am I right?

So it would have seemed to a casual bystander that fate had decreed us to lead a lifestyle replete with murder, pillage and hounding by each other's communities. But then, when we least expected it, a ray of sunshine broke out through all that gloom. A few months ago, we signed a historic pact. We decided to make peace with each other and that the Hindu crazies and the Muslim loonies would finally unite in a coalition of sorts. And together, we would make life miserable for the rest of India instead. That is why, when we approached you and demanded that you surrender M.F Husain's arms into our custody, you were ready to help us with your machettes and bone-saws. And in return, when you issued a fatwa on the heads of the Danish cartoonists, not only did we show you the exact vertebra in the neck that needed to be severed in order to seperate the infidel skull from the torso, we also supplied you with the polythene bags required to dispose of those skulls in an environmentally-friendly fashion. And when we were not delimbing painters or beheading cartoonists, we were making sure that India was well on its way to becoming a model nation of religious puritans in the mold of our Middle-Eastern brothers. Our joint control over the more moderate populace of the country was turning out to be a huge success.

But then, you had to go and include the Christians in our coalition. You never even asked us, never sought our advice on this issue. I don't know if you've noticed, but Christians make up a mere 2% of the population of our country. While you and I, we constitute about 94%. Now my question to you is this : By allowing the Christians access to the levers that control those in power, the strings that make the puppets in Parliament dance to our tune, are we not setting a dangerous precedent for other parties to follow?

What if tomorrow fundamentalist Buddhists were to protest the violence and gore that is such an integral part of our movies? Would we be adding them to our fold and campaigning on their behalf? Or horror of horrors, what if the goddamn atheist community were to show up on our doorstep and demand that every reference to God be deleted from the silver screen because it offended their Godless sensibilities? Have you even considered that? I didn't think so.

You might say I'm being a pessimist, that I should be savoring our joint victory over the government, that it's a matter of the glass being half full and not half empty. Personally, I couldn't care less if the glass were to be half full or half empty as long as it contained water that would otherwise have slaked an atheist's thirst. But my point is that this might not even be a success, but a defeat for you and me, the rightful owners of this great nation. For by allowing the Christians to bend our government to their will, you have just opened a door that will allow just about every community in India to harness the immense power of religious blackmail, the power that should rightfully only be wielded by you and me. And that is a tragedy of epic proportions.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done now to rectify the situation.

In any case, I hope this letter finds you in the fairest of health and the blindest of faith. Khuda Hafiz my dear friend,


Your Hindu Fundamentalist Brother.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Inane Instapundit post of the day

Glenn Reynolds keeps pointing to various links that prove gasoline is still cheaper today than it was during its peak price in the 80s. And I can't help wondering why the fuck he keeps doing that. Why should I care about how much gasoline cost in the 80s? I wasn't driving a car in the 80s. I don't fucking care about the 80s. The 80s are dead to me, man. All I care about is that gasoline, and hence, every other fucking thing costs more today than what it cost yesterday and the week before that and the month before that, whereas I'm still making the same money today as I was making yesterday and the week before that and the month before that. Is that so fucking difficult for Reynolds and his band of wise men to understand?

Saying gasoline is cheap today 'cause it cost more in the 80s is like saying life today is so fucking great because no matter what happens, you should always remember that there was a time when we were living in caves and didn't even have refrigerators to store our Coors Light bottles in.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Phone companies to offer free weekend private minutes

Phone companies are taking note of the public outrage over latest revelations regarding the NSA's domestic phone call monitoring program and trying to diffuse the situation by upgrading service plans to include a limited number of private minutes that can be used by customers during the weekend.

The NSA, which is secretly collecting phone numbers of millions of Americans along with details of calls made from those numbers, has been accused by critics of having violated numerous privacy laws during the process. However, along with the NSA, phone companies appear to be culpable as well for having quietly acquiesced to the NSA's demand for sharing call records that were hitherto pronounced confidential under their policy of disclosure.

However, many phone companies are now trying to limit the PR damage caused by these revelations by upgrading customer calling plans to include 120 free private minutes on weekends. These minutes will go into effect at 5:00 a.m saturday and will end at 7:00 am the very same day, giving customers ample time to carry out top-secret telephonic transactions such as spousal-cheating and crank-calling. Records of calls made during this period will not be submitted to the NSA, instead, being maintained in secret lockup till the furor over the scandal subsides and the NSA is free to surreptitiously violate Americans' civil liberties again.

This calling plan upgrade is available to all US citizens who first have to apply for and pass a background check which will determine if the applicant fulfills all the criteria necessary to be deemed a non-terrorist. In addition, the applicant will also have to provide a list of phone numbers he is planning on calling, and the owners of these numbers will then be checked for any possible ties to the Democratic Party before he is allotted the free private minutes.

On being asked why customer phone call records are being freely supplied to the NSA in spite of the fine print on existing confidentiality agreements stating that customer information will only be given to the government under the duress of court orders or subpoenas, a company spokesperson said, "Well, you need to read the finer print just below the fine print, which states that we can pretty much do whatever we want with that information, including printing it out on flyers and handing it out in Times Square or simply airdropping it throughout the countryside in pamphlet form."

In other news, President Bush, seen here prematurely declaring victory over the pyramid of Kukulkan along with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada, has come up with a brilliant plan to solve the nation's illegal immigration problem. This plan involves sending thousands of National Guard troops to California, Arizona and New Mexico where they will pick fruit and perform any other menial jobs usually assigned to illegal immigrants. In addition, any illegal immigrants caught trying to sneak across the border will be skinned and their hides sent to Iraq to be worn as body armor by coalition troops.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Day without Legal Immigrants in the works

Legal immigrants in America, impressed with the unqualified success of the just concluded "Day without Illegal immigrants" protest, have come together in a bid to focus public attention on their plight by organizing a corresponding "Day without Legal Immigrants". Legal immigrants in the US currently on a work visa face a long and arduous journey as they inch towards the goal of permanent residency and citizenship of this country one bureaucratic red tape at a time.

Negotiations are currently underway among the various legal immigrant factions in the country to agree upon a suitable date for this extraordinary event. However, due to the immense professional diversity of this group, it has been difficult to decide on a date that would be convenient for everyone.

"January and February just aren't good for me", said Mandar Joglekar, an engineer from Detroit. "Busiest month of the year for the manufacturing industry and we have huge orders to fill. But any other date will do", he added.

On the other hand, legal immigrants from the medical profession have reportedly declined to ratify any date in June or July since hospitals are quite busy due to an increase in Americans' propensity of driving into each other during the summer months. And finally, the Association of Legal Software Engineers or ASSLES(S) has confirmed that Autumn won't be a good time for them to walk out on their jobs. "We usually have our major software releases scheduled right before Christmas", said Chen Hwa, a project manager from New Jersey. "If I don't come to work, testing will be affected and there will be numerous bugs in the release", he said.

Finally, after an all-night brainstorming session conducted through instant messaging and teleconferencing, it was decided that December 25th would be the only date everyone could agree upon. "I've already run out of vacation days for the year so Christmas day is the only time I can get out of the office", said Rupali Malhotra, a junior software engineer.

"Great job, gang", said a tired Gautam Reddy, leader of the "Day Without Legal Immigrants " project team, as he emerged from the conference room at the break of dawn. "25th December it is. Now go ahead and cancel your trip to India 'cause we have some protesting to do", he added, tearing up his own JFK-London-Mumbai plane ticket as a symbolic gesture, but not before making copies of it just in case the date of the protest were to be changed.

"A Day Without Legal Immigrants" is expected to draw huge crowds of Indians, Chinese and the occasional Canadian in the software parks and industrial complexes of the country. Coverage of the event is expected to be sporadic, confined to cellphone video-messaged clips that will be posted on blogs not read by a single American. However, protesters hope that their message which won't be raucous and spectacular enough to be heard by the government or the mainstream media, will seep through to the government and the mainstream media, the message being, if their request for expedited permanent residency application processes were to be denied, every technology-based company in the US would face a mass exodus of employees every year on Christmas day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

President Bush to entrust brother with safekeeping of country till twins grow up

With both his teenaged daughters declining to assume control of America after their father finishes his second term, President Bush has announced that the stewardship of the country will instead be handed over to his brother Jeb Bush (via RawStory).

The twins Barbara and Jenna, in spite of being next in line to the throne after their father relinquishes his white-knuckled grip over the country's testicles, have opted to stay in college till they gain a working knowledge about the duties and perks of the American presidency. "It's like I really want to be a war chick n stuff, but a girl only gets one coke snorting binge drinking childhood, you know what I mean", said Jenna Bush, also known among presidential historians as "The Hot One".

The president has agreed to his daughters' request, asking Congress to deliver the reigns of power to his brother Jeb after November 2008, when he is done with "all that prezdental crap". Although Jeb Bush, who is currently the governor of Florida, will have full control of the country's illegal wiretaps and torture chambers for the next few years, the president has clarified that he will only be a temporary keeper of America's keys while the twins grow up and are schooled in the traditions and customs of a Bush presidency.

The Bush twins are the youngest scions of the glorious dynasty of American presidents that was established by the current president's father, George H. W. Bush. Once the twins are ready to ascend to the Crawford throne, they will undergo a ritualistic crowning ceremony at the ranch where a tiara made out of the bones of Iraqi children will be placed upon both their heads while Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate minority leader, in a symbolic display of sacrifice, will be stripped naked and gutted, his blood being allowed to flow into a chalice of gold, out of which the twins will then take delicate sips to solemnize their absolute authority over the country and its bodily fluids.

On being asked for a comment, the future tyrants Barbara and Jenna Bush said, "Oh we just can't wait to become president. Uncle Karl is already teaching us how to hire incompetents and leak matters vital to national security."

In order to avoid sibling rivalry and spats, power will be vested equally in each twin and any administrative conflicts that might arise will be resolved through a game of rock, paper, scissors. However, serious disagreements will have to be sorted out through the more brutal medium of pillow fighting.

"I'll do my job and save all the best wars for when they enter the White House", said Jeb Bush, on being asked how he planned to carry out his mission of temporary guardianship of the country while his nieces grow up. "It will be great to stay in the White House for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet. They really have nice soundproof walls over there which do a great job of masking out the wails of the screaming disaffected masses outside".

Friday, May 05, 2006

Crappy Instapundit link of the day

Instapundit points to this inane post by Gateway Pundit where he appears to ask the question, "If a lunatic walked up to you and claimed that the earth is round, would you believe him? Or would you consider his lunacy to be a factor in your decision and refuse to believe him?"

The Gateway Pundit apparently would refuse to believe that the earth is round. This is what happened. Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst, recently heckled Donald Rumsfeld, asking him why he had lied that he knew where the WMDs were being stored in Iraq (via C&L).

Rumsfeld: appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

McGovern: You said you knew where they were.

Rumsfeld: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and...

McGovern: You said you knew where they were. Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those are your words.

Rumsfeld: My words-my words were that-no-no, wait a minute--wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second....

As C&L points out, this is what Rumsfeld had actually said before.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, weapons of mass destruction. Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think -- let me take that, both pieces -- the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

Gateway Pundit, in spite of that fact being common knowledge, flies off on a tangent, calling McGovern a nut, pointing to his anti-Bush opinions and activities, as if doing that somehow erases Rumsfeld's blatant mendacity from the chart. And isn't that the problem with America today? If someone points out or says something that shows the administration in a bad light, just set your dogs on him. And that's what Gateway Pundit does in this bizarre post, linked to approvingly by Big Daddy Glenn Reynolds.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Update : Glenn Greenwald adds that the links provided by Gateway Pundit do not, in any way, attest to McGovern's alleged "nutcasery".

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bless the Lord

Prayer might not be able to save heart patients, but it can cause oil prices to drop.

Today the president led the nation in prayer on the occasion of, yes, you guessed it, the National Day of Prayer, 'cause what could be a better way for the president to underline the importance of the entire country placing blind faith in him and his policies than to set an example himself by publicly placing blind faith in God. But hail to the Almighty, the prayers appeared to work mighty fine, 'cause God, He caused gas prices to drop by 10 cents a gallon (RawStory).

And now, looking back, we now realize that it was all part of a complex Divine plan when God apparently went against all reason and logic by wreaking havoc on the heart valves of 59% of heart patients who were the target of a prayer team's efforts. By causing those people to remain bedridden and without any access to automobiles, God was actually reducing the overall gas consumption of the nation, which consequently caused gas prices to fall.

It's simple, really. God works according to the following rule of thumb : When in doubt, go with the oil.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert bitchslaps the high priest of inadvertant comedy

Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report performed at the White House correspondent's dinner. He absolutely manhandled the president, his policies, the press and everything in between. Compare his brilliant act to that of the president who tried to do a comedic bit (a deliberate one, as opposed to one of his inadvertant free-falls). Bush stood at the podium with an impersonator (Steve Bridges) by his side, the impersonator apparently saying aloud things the president was supposed to be thinking at the moment. The prerequisite assumption here being, of course, that there actually is thinking going on inside that head. Anyways, a few examples of his "punchlines" :

President Bush : I'm absolutely delighted to be here, as is Laura.
Impersonator : She's hot.

ha ha.

President Bush : Ladies and gentlemen, I feel chipper tonight. I survived the White House shake-up.

That was so funny it made me cry because it was true.

Impersonator : How come I can't have dinner with the 36 percent of the people who like me?

Answer : Because there's no room in trailer parks to accomodate Presidential security details.

You get the picture. Michelle Malkin, of course, thought it was bloody hilarious. But then, everything the president says or does gets her moist.

And then, Colbert began his routine roasting the president. And all signs pointed to the fact that Bush wasn't pleased about it. At least he stopped smiling. Which is great, because it shows that he understood the jokes. Read the entire thing, although I will post the greatest bits for the chronically lazy among you.

"By the way, before I get started, if anybody needs anything else at their tables, just speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers. Somebody from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail."

As an aside, the WaPo screws up its analysis of this one. Teresa Wiltz says,"We're not sure if Valerie Plame laughed, though. Or Karl Rove." What the fuck do Plame or Rove have to do with this? This was a dig at the NSA's illegal spying on American citizens. Obviously Teresa Wiltz was out of the loop.

"I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out of plastic for three cents a unit."

"I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

"And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior."

"Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias."

"I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."

"The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday."

"This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!"

" Look, by the way, I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble: don't let them retire!"

"Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I'd like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center."