Friday, February 06, 2009

Free at at last...

A few weeks ago I hooked up the new Ooma equipment and tested it out. When I was satisfied that it could workI disconnected it and went forward with porting my number (which takes 7-10 days) so that I could cancel my Verizon (local) and AT&T (long distance) services which have been like a repetitive series of kicks to my groin over the years.

When the email came through I hooked up the equipment again, bought a new cordless phone set and crossed my fingers. While the system worked I wanted to report to you on how well it works. So far its been pretty good. The only difference from the old system is that when you pick up the phone there is a brief chime. Also, calling numbers in another area code required you to push 1 first. Once you are talking, there is a short delay between when something is spoken and when the other party hears it. About a half second. Call sound quality has been mixed. Yesterday my brother called and some of his words were garbled or washed out, but he was on his cell phone, which may have had an effect. When I spoke to my Dad in Massachusetts on his land line it was crystal clear.

The system comes with caller I.D. and my new cordless phones can actually tell you who is calling using this information. Very cool. Both the cordless handset and Ooma have a blacklist feature so you can block calls from certain numbers. This is an AWESOME feature. I used to get three calls a day from satellite tv companies and 4 or 5 from call warrantee companies. This has gone waaaaay down. The Ooma works like a regular answering machine except I can get my messages on line when I am traveling. Nice. To call internationally you have to buy credits, but I don't call internationally very often so I haven't tested this out yet. There are extra features available, like a second line and other goodies if you want to pay about $14 a month.

The old cordless phones, which were showing their age, will be put in the garage and the shop respectively so I can finally get calls there.

The best part? No more local or long distance charges EVAR. Ooma is a one time cost. Do you hear that Verizon?? Huh? Do you know how good if felt to tell AT&T to die in a fire? It felt AWESOME.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Standard Operating Proceedure

The previous post "I'd give the Devil the benefit of law" generated some strong opinions about how we should treat 'the bad guys'.

I appreciate strong opinions. I have a few myself. Some of which were reinforced when I watched the film Standard Operating Procedure which dealt with Abu Gihraib. It was hard to watch at times. The matter was not a simple black and white case. We put 18-21 year old kids in charge of a prison. Kids who are trained to follow orders. Kids who were told what was being done was okay, even if the regs said it wasn't. After all, we're in a war, right? I'm not sure what excuse the older personnel had. They knew better.

It gave context and detail to the infamous photographs. It showed the mindset of some of these people. Their reasoning and rationale. And what was seen in the pictures was not the worst of it. It never is.

Is it okay to torture a suspect if you believe he is guilty of being an insurgent or a terrorist?
After all, we didn't hang them, or beat their feet with metal rods or shock their genitalia.
THAT'S torture. Saddam did that shit. We didn't (Although we sent people to countries that did it for us).

Lets talk about what our guys did.
Tying someone in one position naked for 5 hours naked isn't torture, is it?
Depriving someone of sleep for days isn't torture, is it?
Forcing prisoners to masturbate and simulate sex acts in front of women isn't torture is it?
Waterboarding and punching prisoners isn't torture, is it?
Keeping high profile detainees from the eyes of the Red Cross isn't illegal, is it?
Our guys just 'softened them up' for the pro's (CIA, FBI, DIA etc).

After all, these guys were the Bag Guys. Except the ones that weren't. And it seems that the vast majority of these people were just dumb SOB's. Drunks & thieves... oh yeah and most of the fighting age males in an area. Fathers and sons. We took them from their homes because they could POTENTIALLY join the insurgency, not because there was any suspicion they were.

Lock them all up and DO NOT let ANYONE out. That was the order. We did not deny them due process, we denied than ANY process. When they finally got out, I wonder how many of those average Iraqi's were willing to let bygones be bygones?
The end result of not following the rules and the law was an increased insurgency and a deep unifying hatred of Americans in that entire region.

Take a look at this list of Memo's. Look at the titles. Some of the details of these memo's are just now coming to light though we likely will never know the full details of them all. Look at the titles: Convention Against Torture has limited application in the U.S., Torture can be prosecuted only if there was 'specific intent' to harm Is this America at it's finest? Is this the beacon of freedom spoken in hymn and song? It this the best we could do? America has the brawn to do these things, but does it have the brains to do something better? To fight smarter?

I highly recommend you check this movie out through Netflix. It's thought provoking. Here's the trailer: