Quote of the Day

“You’re talking about Dick Cheney. I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view, they’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it’s not that far off.”

Al Gore to Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes  when asked about global warming skeptics such as Dick Cheney.

What Hillary Is Hiding

The Reason Foundation presents a long list. (I guess she isn’t hiding these things as well as she would like to.)

Mike Gravel and Bob Barr Considering Running as Libertarians

The Republican nomination is all wrapped up. The Democrats are still fighting but, as Chris Dodd said, “I think it’s very difficult to imagine how anyone can believe that Barack Obama can’t be the nominee of the party. I think that’s a foregone conclusion, in my view, at this juncture given where things are.” The Libertarian Party has a wide open race.

Besides a number of people only known to libertarian activists, there are two somewhat well known politicians who might seek the nomination–and neither one of them is Ron Paul. Mike Gravel has joined the Libertarian Party.

“I’m joining the Libertarian Party because it is a party that combines a commitment to freedom and peace that can’t be found in the two major parties that control the government and politics of America,” Gravel said in a statement. “My libertarian views, as well as my strong stance against war, the military industrial complex and American imperialism, seem not to be tolerated by Democratic Party elites who are out of touch with the average American.”

Some of his views, such as universal health care, might not go over very well among libertarians.

Bob Barr is also thinking of running. I noted last April that he had quit the Republican Party and joined the Libertarian Party. If Barr runs for the presidential nomination, he would also make opposition to the Iraq war a major issue:

“There’s been a tremendous expressed to me both directly and indirectly on the Internet. I take that support very seriously, and I think it also reflects a great deal of dissatisfaction with the current candidates and the current two-party system. So it is something, to be honest with you, that I’m looking very seriously at.”

Barr said a Libertarian candidacy would essentially be an extension of the Ron Paul campaign.

“Ron Paul tapped into a great deal of that dissatisfaction and that awareness. Unfortunately, working through the Republican party structure, it became impossible for him to really move forward with his movement. But we have to have ….a rallying point out there to harness that energy, that freedom in this election cycle,” Barr said.

On Iraq:

“What we’ve fallen into in recent years — not just since 9/11, but particularly since 9/11 — is this notion that, in order to protect ourselves, we have to preemptively go into and — in the case of Iraq — occupy another sovereign nation,” Barr said. “Simply saying, ‘Gee, it’s better to fight over in this other nation and destroy another nation, so we’re not potentially attacked here, is the height of arrogance.”

As for the Bush administration’s refusal to define waterboarding as torture, Barr referred to the practice as “sophistry of the worst and rankest order.”

Spring Break Camera Order And Internet Cons

I have a bad habit of buying a new toy such as a camera lens before going on vacation. I also tend to buy a lot on line, generally without problems, but did experience a dishonest company today which I’ll get to below. I have contemplated adding posts talking about many of the gadgets I play with, figuring that some readers might be interested and others who are interested in the products would find them from searches. Running into crooked sales people gave me the incentive to write such a post, feeling that companies with dishonest practices like the one I ordered from deserve to be written up when they encounter people with blogs.

With spring break coming up, this time I decided to upgrade my pocket camera. (I always carry one with me while traveling for those times when I leave the SLR back in the room). I ordered a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35. It has a few advantages over my current favorite pocket camera, a Canon S70. It is smaller and has all the added technology of the last few years, which may or may not make a difference, such as image stabilization. More importantly it has a 25 mm Carl Zeus lens. If I only have one lens (or a single lens camera in this case) I want one which includes wide angle going to at least 28 mm. The other advantage is that the camera has  remarkable video capabilities for a pocket camera, including making videos in high definition. Videos are 720p so some purists might object that it doesn’t handle full 1080p, but for a pocket sized camera this is much more than I previously expected to see. This will come in handy should I want a video at any time I don’t want to take a whole camcorder along.

A few potential downsides are that the camera lacks full manual controls (which the S70 has), it cannot zoom while making videos, and while not crucial I am surprised it uses component cables rather than HDMI for the HD video. Besides, a standard HDMI port would mean I wouldn’t have to spend extra for a proprietary component video cable to fit a small camera. Maybe they want to be able to sell the accessory cable. At least they are upfront about the cable, which is far better than the first dealer I ordered this from.

I decided to do a Google search for the camera and came across one of those sites which find the cheapest price for a product on line. I figured that my risk was small. I ordered by credit card, and if worst came to worst and I didn’t receive the camera I actually have an extra Canon Elph along with my Canon S70 so it would be no crisis. I’d also be traveling with an SLR, and in a real pinch there is a (crappy) camera in my cell phone). I ordered from a place called TechonDigital purely because they offered the camera at the lowest price.

My first sign of trouble was that I got an email saying I had to call to verify the order. I would have canceled right then and there if their web site gave that option. One of the points of ordering on line late at night is to avoid taking up time during the day on the phone. Plus I figured that they were up to something.

When I called this morning I was told that I “forgot” to purchase a battery. I decided to play along for a moment to see what they were up to. When I played dumb and said, “doesn’t it come with a battery?” I was told that the battery it comes with only lasts twenty minutes and is intended to only be used to try out the camera. I continued to play along and asked how much the battery would cost. The regular battery was around $60 (already over-priced) but they really wanted to sell me an extended battery which they claim normally costs $150 but were will to sell at the “bargain” price of $99! So much for ordering from them because they were cheaper.

When I first ordered I did look at the reviews of the seller on the site where I found them, but in retrospect I bet that this was part of the scam. When I actually did a Google search for TechonDigital I found lots of complaints and similar stories. I also found that when people tried to order the camera without adding the high-priced accessories they never received the camera, finding it listed as “back-ordered.” Apparently they are only interested in selling these items at a “discount” if they can sell the accessories at rip off prices, but I’ll never know for sure as I thought it was safer to cancel the entire order after talking to them. I will certainly be watching my credit card for unauthorized charges. I’ve also found they operate under a number of other names including DigitalNerds and 86th Street PhotoVideo.

Actually this might have turned out for the best. I’m also thinking of replacing my camcorder with a high definition one, and they sell the model I’m considering at $100 less than my previous best price. It is better to risk a relatively small order for a pocket camera as opposed to a camcorder on an unknown company. As for the camera, I placed an order with Newegg. They charged more than TechonDigital, but still charge far less than the local big box stores and I’ve never had any trouble with any orders from them. I quickly got confirmation that the order has been processed without any need to call them or buy anything else. Newegg also came in handy recently when I purchased an HDMI cable for a new HD television from them for $6 as opposed to paying $80 to the big box stores a couple weeks ago.

Posted in Gadgets, In The News. 5 Comments »

Clinton Threatens Convention Floor Fight

Hillary Clinton, who has felt much more comfortable among  conservatives lately, has discussed her intentions on Fox News, warning she will take the fight all the way to the convention, showing no regard for what damage she might cause:

“You know, you can always go to the convention. That’s what credential fights are for,” she said. “Let’s have the Democratic party go on record against seating the Michigan and Florida delegations three months before the general election? I don’t think that will happen. I think they will be seated. So that’s where we’re headed if we don’t get this worked out.”

The superdelegates need to step up and commit to Obama in the near future to demonstrate to Clinton that it is pointless to remain in the race. NBC News reports that more superdelegates are getting fed up with her tactics:

At a time when Sen. Hillary Clinton is increasingly relying on superdelegates to vault her to the Democratic Party’s nomination, a handful of undecided and pledged superdelegates are coming forward to say her campaign’s tactics in recent weeks are doing more harm than good.

The Democratic Party insiders say they believe Clinton’s direct attacks against Sen. Barack Obama in recent days are hurting the party and its chances in November, and also say it is showing a calculated, desperate-to-win side of Clinton that they dislike.

There have not gotten to the point yet of trying to get Clinton to leave the race, but sooner or later they might realize that this is necessary if they want to win in November. The Democrats cannot afford to have Clinton continue her divisive tactics through August, leaving Obama little time to recover.