Well, it was back to the steer mines for me on Tuesday after a nice, earned three-day weekend, the prospect of which rattled me so much that I forgot that Wrestlethis!, the radio show, ended a few months ago, a victim of the downturn in the wrestling industry. Too bad. It was the best, and I wish all of the guys well. They’re what I think of when I think “Philly wrestling”, even more so than ECW. So, my apologies to them and to you.
It’s on to the world at large now. Again, apologies, but I’m still on evening shift for the next four weeks, after which the four-week cycle can begin again after three straight months on evenings. Job sucks, life sucks, but I’m making money. I just have to find alternate ways of making it that won’t drive me crazy, and I think I’ve identified a few here in town (other than the obvious one: go to work for Tyson). But that’s the peril of Dubbaya’s America: jobs are hard to come by, even for someone as qualified as I am.
End off the rambling right now and get to the meat of the gist, so to speak, shall I?
THE PIMP SECTION
Oh, PK, shame on you for not mentioning that the great Jeffrey Combs did the voice of the Question. Jeff Combs must be pimped at every opportunity. Remember, PK, you owe him.
Misha had a thrilling time at ECTS, and he’s got all the news from that conclave for you, among other things (like Acclaim’s games pulling a non-public 3DO).
Presiloski has joined us, which is reason enough to celebrate.
Gloomchen has another story of misery to entertain us with in a schadenfreude kind of way.
Goforth chronicles the internal odyssey of one Kurt Angle, not to mention his internal odyssey when it comes to higher education.
Stevens has your DC news in one fell swoop, while Burnside does the same for Marvel.
YOUR ANTI-SPYWARE ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Remember, this all started because the slugs at Enigma Software dared to advertise their piece of shit SpyHunter at 411 (one of the reasons why I decided to leave, honestly). 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 few months now.
(And as I understand it, there are some unscrupulous browser toolbar people trying to advertise here at the Pulse. Well, don’t click on that ad, whatever you do. We’ll still get the money from the impressions, and your system will stay safe.)
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 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 at various websites.
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.
MAD DOG’S BIG MOUTH STRIKES AGAIN
From USA Today:
The presidential campaign spiked to a new level of rhetorical heat Tuesday when Vice President Cheney warned that a vote for Democrat John Kerry could bring terrorist attacks on the USA.
Speaking to supporters in Des Moines, Cheney called it “absolutely essential” that on Election Day voters “make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating.”
Cheney’s remarks overshadowed accusatory exchanges by Kerry and President Bush over Iraq and drew a response from North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Kerry’s running mate.
“Dick Cheney’s scare tactics crossed the line today,” he said. Protecting America from “vicious terrorists” is not a partisan issue, and Cheney and Bush ought to know that, Edwards said.
Fine by me that Mad Dog said this, because now I can reiterate this statement with a clear consicence: September 11th happened because there was a Bush in the White House, and Cheney and Powell were there as well. Yes, nothing I haven’t said before, but, hey, what’s good for the goose and all that. If terrorist acts are determined by who occupies the White House, then both sides have to have a good look at themselves to see what kind of provocation they might provide. Let’s do that for them:
Bush/Cheney: Cheney responsible as SecDef for sending troops to Saudi under Bush Senior. Powell in command of troops as head of Joint Chiefs. Acts were considered provocative to Osama bin Laden, thus starting his jihad against the US. Invaded Iraq for no goddamn good reason, and now the death toll has reached four digits on the American side. Otherwise good Muslims are subjected to violations of the Geneva Convention while under detention in Iraq. I’m sure you can come up with others.
Kerry/Edwards: Swift Boat Veterans For Truth begin strafing runs up the Potomac, and that’s pretty much it. Let us also remember that the most destructive terrorist act under the Clinton Administration was performed by looney right-wing (sorry for the redundancy) Americans.
So, given the evidence at hand, wouldn’t it be safer to vote Demo if you’re worried about terror and all that? You bet your ass. Plus you won’t have a vice-president who’s a loose cannon and says stupid shit. The GOP has a tradition of this. Nixon, Agnew, Quayle…why do they pick people like that for the One Heartbeat Away slot?
I’m telling you, when I’m looking for stories and thinking I’d have to lead off with Veej/Tigger, Mad Dog makes my day. God bless him.
And speaking of Swift Boat Veterans, the other side is starting to crank it up too…
ONE CANDIDATE DODGED THE DRAFT, YOU KNOW
Again from USA Today:
A group called Texans for Truth will release a TV ad today in which a former lieutenant colonel in the Alabama Air National Guard says neither he nor his friends saw George W. Bush when the future president was supposed to be with their unit in 1972.
The ad could renew questions about Bush’s Vietnam-era service in the National Guard, just as ads by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth renewed debate over Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s service in Vietnam and his anti-war efforts.
Since the 2000 campaign, Bush has been dogged by questions about whether he reported for duty throughout his Guard service. He served as a pilot with the Texas Air National Guard and sought a transfer to Alabama in 1972 so he could work on a political campaign there. But some records that could document his service in Alabama are missing.
In the new ad, retired lieutenant colonel Robert Mintz says he “heard George W. Bush get up there and say, ‘I served in the 187th Air National Guard in Montgomery, Alabama.’
“I said, ‘Really? That was my unit. And I don’t remember seeing you there,’ ” Mintz says. “So I called my friends and said, ‘Did you know that George Bush
served in our unit?’ And everyone said, ‘No, I never saw him there.’ It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size.”
The Bush-Cheney campaign is crying foul. Charges that Bush failed to fulfill his Guard duties are “baseless and false,” campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said. “The president served honorably in the National Guard, fulfilled his duties and was honorably discharged.”
Okay, let’s be fair for the sake of being fair: these guys are funded by MoveOn.org, so there’s no real secret where they’re coming from on this. However, if the whole Swift Boat stuff is being countenanced by the White House (which it is), then it’s fair that the other side start playing hardball again with the military service record. It’s now more pertinent than it was in 2000, where we had another Democratic senator who actually served in Vietnam up against a draft dodger whose daddy got him a cushy slot in the Guard, because said draft dodger got us into a military conflict half a world away with people who didn’t do anything to us for reasons that have now been exposed as total lies, which I’ve told you since BEFORE the invasion.
If you give a damn about military service, look at both sides and tell me who you’d support, a guy who served honorably and whose attack of conscience drove him to an anti-war stance, or a National Guard pussy who lied about giving out all his records. Oh, yes, he lied. Catch the AP wire for this little development:
President Bush ranked in the middle of his Air National Guard flight class and flew 336 hours in a fighter jet before letting his pilot status lapse and missing a key readiness drill in 1972, according to his flight records belatedly uncovered Tuesday under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Pentagon and Bush’s campaign have claimed for months that all records detailing his fighter pilot career have been made public, but defense officials said they found two dozen new records detailing his training and flight logs after The Associated Press filed a lawsuit and submitted new requests under the public records law.
“Previous requests from other requesters for President Bush’s Individual Flight Records did not lead to the discovery of these records because at the time President Bush left the service, flight records were subject to retention for only 24 months and we understood that neither the Air Force nor the Texas Air National Guard retained such records thereafter,” the Pentagon told the AP.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the government “searched a file that had been preserved in spite of this policy” and found the Bush records, the letter said. “The Department of Defense regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts.”
Twenty-four months, my ass. The DOD saves everything. I’m sure that if I ask for my complete service record today, twelve and a half years after being discharged, I could get it. Hell, if JJ wants to see my full service record, I’m sure that with his security clearance, he could request it and get it (just say that I’m a terrorist suspect; that should work given one good Google search and one paranoid Ashcroftian). Shame that AP had to sue under FOIA to get this kind of stuff. It is important, and it does show that he didn’t show for an important exercise. Hell, if JJ or I did that, we’d be Article 15ed at the very least, court-martialed if someone had a hard-on against us.
Just another reason to vote Kerry.
And let me give you another…
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
In a report released Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revised its projection for the country’s budgetary shortfalls, lowering its previous forecast for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 but raising its estimates for cumulative 10-year deficits by $281 billion.
Under current laws and policies, the projected 10-year deficit is expected to total $2.28 trillion, or 1.5 percent of the estimated 10-year combined gross domestic product (GDP), up from a March projection of $2 trillion.
CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eaking said in a press conference Tuesday morning that the upward revision is due mainly to military expenditures for Iraq and Afghanistan that were not included in the March analysis.
I’m a deficit hawk. I want a balanced budget enough to want to implement a flat tax and VAT. I’ve lived in Europe, so I have no problem with this concept. What the Junta is doing with the budget disgusts me tremendously. And it gets worse:
The report noted the deficit for fiscal 2004 will come in at $422 billion, down from the $477 billion projected in March. Although a record level in dollar terms, the number represents 3.6 percent of the nation’s GPD. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the nation often ran deficits of 4 percent of GPD or greater, according to the report.
And who was president during that period? Oh, yeah, the Senile Old Fuck and Senior, good Republicans. In the meantime, when the budget got balanced and there was a surplus, who was president? Oh, yeah, Bubba, a tax-and-spend Democrat.
Memo to you guys in your twenties: you’re gonna have to be responsible for this deficit, and it’s only going to get worse now that the Boomers are starting to reach Social Security age. I’m already expecting to have nothing in the coffers for me, a tail-end Boomer, when I retire in twenty years. You guys will have nothing, unless this shit stops now. Support a balanced budget and vote Kerry.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The six wins so far are terrific. The major is the cherry on top. But Veej’s greatest accomplishment was overthrowing Tigger from Number One in the world.
That’s really all I want to say on that subject. That’s really all I can say. The guy’s incredible, and he’s doing it at 41 when he has young pups like Adam Scott (who finished tied with Tigger at the Deutsche Bank three strokes behind Veej) nipping at his heels. He’s an inspiration for those of us who are close to that age mark. Let’s hope for a Veej/Tigger final group at the Tour Championship. You will NEED to watch that, even and especially if you don’t like golf.
Because I didn’t watch the Jen-Jen/Serena match and didn’t see the controversial call (the umpire isn’t going to do any more umpiring at this US Open, or any thereafter, probably), I’ll end it off. Hey, at least you got a column this week. Just remember, you have two months to make a decision on voting. Vote for the Democrat of your choice, but vote.