Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, my brain returns to fan the flames of discontent while leaping off the bridge of rational thought and into the black night of a thousand mixed metaphors. Extra vitrol, no charge.

Regarding the current NATO attacks on Kosovo, President Clinton talking “moral imperatives” is like Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert advocating a diet plan for the marathon runners: There’s simply no credibility.

Is Clinton the worst foreign policy president of the last 30 years? Our allies have no idea where we stand, the American public has no idea where we stand, and nobody (I dare say including the president) has any idea why we advocate the positions we do. You do the math. (Even President Bush (who, as many of you know, I detested) had a consistent, though often wrong-headed, foreign policy.)

Unlike domestic policy decisions, a president can’t read some poll numbers and come up with a coherent foreign policy position. Foreign policy requires leadership, and it’s a thing in terribly short supply at the White House. (Heck, it’s in terribly short supply at the State Department too. Madaline Albright’s sabre-rattling has achieved nothing other than to make her irrelevent. And speaking of “worsts,” has there been a worse Secretary of State in the last 30 years? Doubtful, though Alexander Haig is a tough guy to topple from his “I’m in charge here” throne.)

We have major problems in Israel, Syria, Iraq, Russia, North Korea, China, and Yugoslavia. We’ve already had major disgraces in Somalia and Haiti. Why do I think that Kosovo will be next?

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Apparently Circuit City is still trying to push their inferior, more expensive, environmentally-damaging, privacy-destroying, consumer-rip-off DIVX format. Unlike regular DVDs (digital video discs), DIVX discs are essentially permanent rentals: You “buy” a disc for $4.49 then you have 48-hours to watch it after the time you first put it in your DIVX machine. Beyond the 48 hours time frame, it’ll cost you another $3.25. Is this a better deal than the regular DVD? Hardly. Regular VHS video tape rentals are cheaper than DIVX. (Even DVD rentals are less expensive.) Circuit City has popped $205 million into promoting the format, but word on the street is that DIVX is failing. So there is a God.

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Kevin Mitnick, the long-imprisioned super hacker, appears to be on the road to freedom, this week agreeing to a plea bargin that will resolve the two federal cases against him. Of course there are many of us who see Mitnick’s imprisonment as yet another example of goverment overkill:

    Kevin is charged with accessing corporate computer systems without permission and transferring a copy of copyrighted proprietary software. He is not charged with or accused of profiting in any way, or damaging or destroying any systems or software, or of depriving anyone of access to systems or software.

Despite this, Mitnick has served over 4 years in the federal lockup. The average sentence for criminals convicted of manslaughter? About 2 years. Add to this that the government’s case against Mitnick is on the flimsy side, and what you have is—once again—some very questionable activities by the federal goverment.

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“Doctor” Jack Kevorkian (his medical license was revoked some time ago) was finally found guilty after the death of 130 of his “patients.” It’s no secret that many of the victims were not terminally ill. Kevorkian has never pretended to care about this. He’s very frank about this being a “quality of life” issue, the same thing that so upsets advocacy groups for the disabled, since if society starts making those kinds of determinations it’s pretty clear who’s first on the chopping block.

Will this sort of slippery slope scenerio ever happen in the United States? By some accounts, about half of the assisted suicides in the Netherlands—where authorities turn a blind eye to this sort of thing—are now involuntary, and happen because of “problems” like mental illness, permanent disability, and old age. Maybe this is indicative of a cultural difference between the Netherlands and the US.

Maybe not.

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My least favorite commercial of all-time is currently showing. It’s a McDonald’s ad featuring a single-mother and her loose-change-seeking son. The premise is that McDonald’s has these cheap burger days or whatever so pick up a few coins and any day can be a special day by visiting McDonald’s and having one of their artery-clogging beef burgers. In the ad, the kid overhears his mom talking on the phone about her birthday and how she’ll probably just stay at home and do nothing “special.” The little boy springs into action, rounds up some loose change from about the house, earnestly asks Mom if she’s busy, then they troop off together to Mickey D’s where he buys her a burger and asks her pointedly, “Is everything okay?” She responds, “Everything’s just fine.” Play happy, bouncy music, show corporate logo and ad slogan, fade to black.

Yet no one in this commercial smiles. Not even once. Mom gives a token effort at the end, but if that’s a smile, it’s the lamest one I’ve ever seen. Given the obvious “broken household” undercurrent of pain that runs through these 30 seconds, it’s amazing to me that this ad aired at all. What kind of hell are these people in? And especially when all it takes is a trip to McDonald’s to make their day “special.” (And still nobody smiles.) I come away thinking not about McD’s cholesteral-causing cow meat but about just how terrible divorce is. All I can see is the sadness of the single mother and her trying-to-be-brave little boy. After viewing this ad dozens of times—you know what McDonald’s ad budget is like—I still can’t tell you what the price of the burger bargain is.

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I’m probably alone in my opinion on this, but I thought the “Melissa” virus which spread like wildfire last week was a hoot. Here’s why:

  • It only hit users of Microsoft products (specifically Word 97, Word 2000 (beta), Excel, and Outlook). For those companies standardizing on Microsoft Office, there’s a lesson here.
  • The virus hit Microsoft Corp. hard, taking down their email servers for a day or so. Given how their own email has been used against them in the on-going anti-trust trial, this might end up being to their benefit.
  • “Melissa” did not effect Macintosh computers except that—Typhoid Mary-like—Macs running Microsoft products were capable of passing the virus on to other computers. My God these are incredible machines.
  • The email-based virus also included a list of pornography web sites.

What was the problem with “Melissa” again?