Opinions, Etc: 07.21.04


If there is a job that can’t be given to a Democrat, we should eliminate the job. – Andrew Jackson (and thanks to John Perkowski for the quote; even the “other side” helps me out on occasion)

Okay, it’s a race against the clock, as usual. Stupid me, I took a K-Dawg to get to sleep last night, and slept a lot longer than I expected. It’s not exactly a One-Hour Special ™, but it’s going to be damn close.


Bradford is “us”, while we are “them”.

Slayer leads with the Open Championship. Good man.

Bill now has his Little Things on display every Wednesday. Hope he doesn’t crack under the pressure of following me.

GRUT! has his latest Wrestling Tale available for you.

I need to borrow Bishop‘s grapefruit if I ever want to watch Raw.

David, like the rest of the IWC, loves the Midnights.

I trust you, Campbell, David Variant.

Cooling shows that being bi can be an advantage when it comes to judging sexiness of wrestlers.

Smilowitz understands the Zen of Lack Of News.

Rutherford goes after Fox News, among other things.

Yeager needs to shut up and bring his significant other a sammitch.

Erhardt goes bats.


Remember, this all started because the slugs at Enigma Software dared to advertise their piece of shit SpyHunter here at 411. So I’m responding every single column with proper anti-spyware information. And guess what? People are actually taking this to heart. They’re asking me for help if they’re infested, or they’re writing me telling me that their browsing experience is less annoying thanks to the stuff I’ve been putting up here three times a week for a couple months now.

Big, big Kudos to the guys at the Spyware Warrior Forum for pointing out to everyone the extent of criminal activity participated in by Enigma Software, makers of the bane of advertising on this site, SpyHunter. Slimeballs extraordinare, aren’t they? And in case you need more info about what flaming bags of shit they are, try here. Suzi’s Blog has a great list of other flaming bags of shit that promote anti-spyware programs that are spyware themselves. Consult it if you have questions.

(On a side note, those SpyHunter ads started over at Reality News Online, and BFM, a contributor there, spotted them. He told the webmaster, gave him those links that I cited above, the webmaster read them, the blood drained out of his face, and he contacted his ad provider. No more ads for Enigma products on RNO, thank you. So guess what? If you provide the info, there are sites who will listen.)

One of the leading vectors for spyware is so-called free programs that contain this shit in order to “pay the bills”. No one deserves that kind of treatment. If you’ve got a question about whether or not a certain program contains spyware, head over here. It’s a nice alphabetized list of programs that do contain spyware and should be avoided at all costs.

Here’s a list of the programs you really need to help you get rid of menaces, and, more importantly, prevent them from occurring in the first place:

Spybot and AdAware. The ONLY two spyware removal tools to trust. Do NOT buy any spyware removal tools, because none of them work better than these two, and all of them except these two are suspect.

SpywareBlaster. Will nuke thousands of different potentially malicious ActiveX controls, and now has the ability to prevent a number of non-ActiveX methods of installing spyware for people who use Mozilla/Firefox.

SpywareGuard. From Javacool, like SpywareBlaster. It’s a real-time scanner for spyware. A decent first line of defense.

IE-SpyAd. Throws numerous ad-related URLs into IE’s Restricted Zone, where they won’t display or affect your system. Bookmark this one, since it’s the only one that doesn’t have an in-program update.

A few people have recommended also installing the Sun Java Virtual Machine, since it’s Windows’ buggy, half-assed implementation of the JVM that allows a lot of spyware to install (less so within the past month and a half than before). I’ve resisted putting it here because of a couple things: 1) The MS JVM was removed in XP SP1a due to the Sun court case and replaced with a Sun JVM, and I’m not sure how many people have actually patched. 2) The link above is an automatic download, and that does scare some people. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. I wouldn’t have put it here if it wasn’t. But I STRONGLY recommend that you visit here and update your version of Java.

So many people have asked about a free anti-virus program that I’m also going to recommend AVG. Totally free, and works really, really well, as well as commercial anti-virus programs. Frequent database updates, good heuristic detection, everything you want in an anti-virus package.

Another program that I’d like to add here is a little tough to work with for noobs if it goes buggy (you need to know a little something about your Networking settings in order to debug if something should go wrong). Protowall is a supplement to your firewall or NAT system. It hooks directly into XP’s networking system to block any and all traffic that comes from URLs on a list maintained by the program (all protocols, not just TCP/UDP). It’s mainly designed for anti-P2P purposes (which will appeal to a great many of my readers), but it contains lists to block spyware and ads. Its blocklist can easily be updated using its supplementary program, Blocklist Manager. I have Protowall running and a Blocklist Manager icon on my desktop, and I use Blocklist Manager to update the blocklist every couple of days. You will have problems getting to some sites unless you shut down Protowall temporarily, like ESPN or Sports Illustrated, but it does have a tray icon you can right-click and shut down in a few seconds. It’s the third layer of anti-ad material for me, with IE-SpyAd and AdSubtract running alongside it. Warning, though: it only works with XP. I’d recommend its predecessor, Peer Guardian, for other MS OSes, but it isn’t being developed anymore, and there were still bugs in it when development stopped. You can get Protowall and the Blocklist Manager (which will also work with Peer Guardian) at Bluetack’s site.

Of course, only download them from the links provided above. And only download those programs; don’t fall for the ads that are shown here.

With AdAware and Spybot, check for updates using their internal update function at least once a week. Run them at least once a week or whenever you think you might have problems. Remember, the new version of Spybot has browser protection capabilities, so have that run at startup and leave it running. Check for updates to SpywareBlaster once a week. It only needs to be run once initially in order to establish protection. Then, after it downloads updates, just click on the line that says “Enable Protection For All Unprotected Items” and kill it. It doesn’t need to be active. For IE-SpyAd, bookmark the site and check for updates twice a week, since it has no kind of internal updater. Run the Blocklist Manager every couple of days to make sure that you keep up on the latest banned URLs. Since all it does is add Registry entries, it doesn’t eat up anything.

If you’re having trouble with spyware or a browser hijacker, or think that you do, head over to the SpywareInfo Forums, where the pros there can help you diagnose and get rid of stuff. I was promoted to Full Helper status there and ended up joining ASAP, the Alliance of Security Analysis Professionals. Look for their symbol, which I’m not going to try to link to anymore because someone at the other end keeps munging it.

The Ravin’ Cajun asks me to recommend a good client-side spam filter for MS mail programs running under Windows. Now, this is something I don’t have experience with because my ISPs have always had good spam filtering, plus, I use Thunderbird, which handles the remainder quite nicely, thank you. Some readers wrote in and recommended SpamBayes, which is totally free and supposedly works very well, so I’ll add it on to the anti-annoyance list that we’re building up here.


So now the Demos have a bit of a PR problem. What did Sandy Berger take out of the National Archives, was it classified information, and did he tell the Kerry Campaign about what he found out during his investigations for the September 11th Commission?

Berger, who has a rep for honesty, was forced to step down from his unpaid role for the Good Guys on Tuesday because of the media blitz on his accidental mixing of personal documents with classified material. He’s been cooperating with an investigation and ‘fessed up to violating Archives policy. Let’s state here that what he did wasn’t against the law, but only against Archives policy. It doesn’t matter whether or not the material in question was “code word”-level classified, Berger was cleared to look at it, as is only appropriate for a former National Security advisor.

But at least CNN got down to the crux of the matter, namely the fact that it was leaked as the September 11th Commission’s report is getting major-league pub. Here’s their excerpt:

Republicans were in an uproar over news of the investigation. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called it “absolutely shocking,” while one leading GOP senator, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, demanded that the Kerry campaign divulge whether Berger had provided it with classified information.

A spokesman for President Bush’s re-election campaign, Terry Holt, said Berger’s departure as a Kerry adviser was “appropriate” but added that “there are still a lot of questions about whether or not the Kerry campaign benefited from the information Berger took.”

Big f*cking deal, guys. They’re going to find out about it during the transition, plus about a lot of dirty secrets the Junta’s been keeping secret. Whether or not they reveal them is up to them at the time. I’d do it. Embarass the motherf*ckers.

On the other hand, Democrats raised questions about the timing of the leak about the investigation, which has been going on for at least nine months. The news broke just days before the 9/11 commission issues its final report and a week before Democrats gather in Boston to nominate Kerry at their national convention.

“I do think the timing is very curious, given this has been under way now for this long,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota. “Somebody leaked it, obviously, with intent, I think, to do damage to Mr. Berger, and I think that’s unfortunate.”

Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer said GOP insinuations that Berger might have passed along classified information appear “to be a partisan attempt to divert attention away from the 9/11 commission report.”

“Instead of using the report’s recommendations to learn how we can improve our homeland security, Republicans are playing politics with an inquiry,” he said.

However, a Bush administration source told CNN that any suggestion the Justice Department deliberately leaked information about the investigation now was “simply not true.” A government source said while the 9/11 commission was briefed on the Berger investigation, the White House was not.

Justice Department officials would not comment directly about the probe. But Deputy Attorney General James Comey did say that “we take issues of classified information very, very seriously.”

“We have prosecuted or sought administration sanctions against any number of people throughout the years for mishandling of classified information,” he said.

That’s the whole thing here. The Junta has shown time and again that timing is everything to them. Leaks and divulgence and scare tactics are just another political weapon designed to create FUD among the populace to deliver the election immorally into their hands. They proved that they’d stoop as low as possible during 2000 (not only in regard to Florida, but also in regard to torpedoing McCain’s candidacy). This is just another example of that.

Hopefully, this’ll fade away by next week so that I can cover the Convention with a clear mind.


From the AP wire:

U.S. entertainment giant Disney has three weeks to respond to a $1.6 million compensation suit filed by a Soweto family that says it lost royalties from the hit song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” a family lawyer said Tuesday.

The song, popularized in the long-running theater production and cartoon movie “The Lion King” was originally written in 1939 by Solomon Linda, a Zulu migrant worker turned songwriter.

Disney has denied liability, but it has not filed a legal response to the suit filed in the Pretoria High Court earlier this month.

Owen Dean, the family’s lawyer, said in a statement that Disney has until August 12 to give notice of its intention to defend the matter in court.

Dean said the summons and particulars of the claim were served on Disney Enterprises Inc. in the U.S. on July 13 and to South African entertainment groups shortly afterward.

“If any of the parties fail to give notice of their intention to defend the action by the respective due dates, judgment will be entered against such party by default,” Dean said.

The Africa manager for Burbank, California-based Disney, Christine Service, declined to comment, saying the matter was being dealt with by the group’s lawyers.

Linda died penniless in 1962, having sold away the rights to the song, originally titled “Mbube,” to a South African publisher. It went on to generate an estimated $15 million in royalties after it was adapted by other artists, including the American songwriter George Weiss, whose version is featured in Disney’s “The Lion King.”

The song has been covered by at least 150 artists, including The Tokens, George Michael, Miriam Makeba and The Spinners.

Linda’s three surviving daughters and 10 grandchildren, living in poverty in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, have received only a one-time payment of $15,000.

The action is based on laws in force in Commonwealth nations at the time the song was first recorded. Under its provisions, the rights to a song revert to the composer’s heirs 25 years after his death.

The history of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as presented here is essentially correct. But there are some interesting twists that they don’t mention. Here’s how the song actually got to America in the first place. Linda recorded his version, which is about a lion sleeping peacefully near a village and a group of hunters noticing this. During the song, one hunter tells another (in Zulu), “Be quiet and there will be lion meat tonight”. That sentiment, of course, wouldn’t have gone down outside the native South African communities, and certainly wouldn’t have fit into The Lion King, where someone taking a potshot at Simba would have engendered a new generation of traumatized individuals, one whose parents and grandparents are still dealing with Bambi’s mom.

The song was then picked up by the famous South African singer Miriam Makeba, who did a magnificent version of “Mbube”. Makeba became one of the goddesses of the first World Music scene, one that was epitomized by the folk music movement in the United States in the 1950s. And that’s where the gap in cover versions take place. “Mbube” first came to the US courtesy of one of the greatest folk groups ever, the Weavers. Since the Weavers didn’t speak Zulu, they disregarded the verses, but loved the sound of the repeated word in the chorus, “Wimoweh”. They renamed the song “Wimoweh” and just sang variations on the chorus. Every folk group worth their salt sang “Wimoweh” (the Weavers, despite being blacklisted for their liberal inclinations, were that influential).

Well, as folk music became more popular, it came to the attention of record company people. “Wimoweh” specifically came to the attention of Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, the two producers at RCA Records who were responsible for a lot of Elvis’ best soundtrack material. “Great chorus,” they thought, “but it needs some verses.” So they went to their favorite lyricist, George Weiss (the trio were responsible for, among others, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”), who, NOT KNOWING ABOUT “MBUBE”‘s SUBJECT MATTER, wrote some verses about a lion sleeping peacefully near a village. No hunters, though. Hugo and Luigi gave the song to the Tokens, a four-man doo-wop group from Noo Yawk who eventually became talented arrangers and producers themselves (they produced, among other songs, “One Fine Day”). The Tokens didn’t want to record it; they were a bit too purist for this. But Hugo and Luigi were too powerful to resist, and the Tokens gave in. Enter one Number One hit.

The folkies went ballistic, thinking that the Tokens were tramping over the Weavers and bastardizing them. “This is what commercial music does to the real folk process,” they said. Then they found out about “Mbube” and quickly shut up. Weiss accidentally gave the commercial music side a weapon against the folkies. And we all got to enjoy a great song. Or is it two songs? Or is it three?

The question now that has to be answered, forty years after the fact, is whether “Mbube” is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. If so, Linda’s heirs and assigns are perfectly within their rights. If not, they’re screwed. Is there enough of a disconnection due to what Hugo, Luigi, and Weiss did to deny them their claim? I have this feeling they’re going to win this one. The “Wimoweh” chorus is an organic connection between the two songs; it survived intact through the trip from “Mbube” to “Wimoweh” to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. That was enough in the “He’s So Fine”/”My Sweet Lord” case (although George Harrison was totally screwed on that one because he kept the whole music of the original), and it should be enough here. However, similarity of this nature was denied when John Fogerty was found innocent of plagiarizing himself in the “Old Man Down The Road” case.

I’m all for songwriters’ rights, and Solomon Linda deserves his props. If not for his efforts in 1939, we wouldn’t have “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, one of the greatest works of modern music. Give him his money, Disney.


Yesterday, I made a joke about Americans not knowing what claret is (when discussing said pouring instrument that’s the prize for winning the Open Championship). Well, Sean knows, and Sean’s quite willing to explain to you the whole schmeeer:

“Claret” is the almost exclusively British term for red wine from the Bordeaux region of France, which include many of the greatest in the world. While there are many wines made in Bordeaux, the big guns are either Cabernet Sauvignon (mostly from the Medoc) or Merlot (mostly from Pomerol and St. Emillion) which are blended with each other and with Cabernet Franc and lesser grapes like Petite Verdot and Malbec. When someone refers to a claret, it is these wines or wines or similar blends form other regions of the world that he would be referring to.

The curious thing is that although the British derive “claret” from the French, it is not pronounced as the French would say it. It is distinctly Anglicized, with the emphasis on the first syllable and a hard “t” at the end. The other curious thing is that there is rarely made Bordeaux wine called “clairet,” which, as you would expect, is quite clear – almost a rose. This, however, is not what the Brits are talking about when they use the etymologically related “claret.”

Claus Riedel, the legendary Austrian glassmaker and the ninth generation to lead company that bears his family’s name, introduced in 1973 his seminal sommeliers collection of wine-specific stemware. The bowl shape he deemed ideal for the tasting of Bordeaux is a tall, chimney shaped glass with gently tapering sides. It is unclear why anyone would drink claret from a jug.

The rest of this is completely useless wine info…

Best recent vintages would be 2000 and 2003 if early reports run true. If you can get your hands on 1990, 1985-6, or 1982, it’s well worth it. The best Bordeaux tend to hold up pretty well, so classic vintages should still be good. A few years back, I tasted Chateau Cheval Blanc from 1947 and the miracle victory vintage of 1945, and they were both pretty darn tasty. The oldest I’ve had was a 1928 Chateau Ducru-Beaucalliou, which wasn’t as good, but was still holding up well for having been sitting around since the Jazz age. Hands down the best Bordeaux I’ve ever had is the mythical 1967 Chateau d’Yquem, from Sauternes, which is a sweet white wine, and, since it’s impossible at this point to have sex with late-eighties era Michelle Pfeiffer, is probably the most enjoyable physical experience I’m ever going to have. And it’s not technically claret, so I guess it’s a little off topic.

(Claus Riedel passed in March. I don’t recall seeing an in memorium.)

Well, I don’t follow trends in glassware very much. And I do have to add that a really good Bordeaux or Merlot is a great match for Vikes and K-Dawgs if you want a terrific weekend. It’s good to see those recommendations on recent vintages, though, Sean. I’ve been wary about any post-Chernobyl wine due to the obvious change in taste and bouquet, and it seems like the area’s now recovered from the fallout. If memory serves, the ’83 d’Yquem that I had wasn’t too bad, but not like the ’82, which is magnificent.


Despite the intervention of years, I still follow developments in physics closely, and the Great Paralyzed One’s lecture at the International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin was definitely a must-read. He finally stated what we all suspected: black holes decay. As they decay, they release matter and EM-spectrum energy that’s long been referred to as Hawking Radiation.

Look, I find it fascinating, so it goes in here. And, let’s face it, anything that Hawking says is important. The guy’s still capo di tutti capi among astrophysicists today.