masala: the international spice
Flavor your world with masala

Sunday, February 29

Getting Credit vs. Protecting Privacy : Sallie Mae, Moving in Slo-Mo
In the summer of 2002 Sallie Mae decided, without telling its more
than 7 million borrowers, that it would report loan information only
to Innovis Data Solutions, a small credit bureau, and to Equifax,
one of the big three.

Sallie Mae said it decided to withhold loan data from Experian and
TransUnion because those bureaus sell names to companies interested
in marketing to Sallie Mae's borrowers. Sallie Mae's stance prevented
young customers from proving their credit histories to and getting loans
from these companies.

Sallie Mae has officially changed its position after receiving legislative
pressure, but is still not sending credit info to Experian and TransUnion
citing technical difficulties..

3/13 - I got an email from Sallie Mae today about my loans. Said:

Sallie Mae, in compliance with the Higher Education Act and applicable
regulations, must report our borrowers’ credit histories to at least one
national credit bureau. As of March 5, the company is reporting credit
histories to four major credit bureaus. They are Equifax, Experian, Innovis,
and TransUnion.

You should know that under the so-called “firm offer” rule, credit bureaus
are permitted to sell your name, address, and other contact information
to companies that wish to market to you their credit or insurance products
or services.

Went on to list a phone number I could call to stop the credit bureaus from
selling my contact information...........

Thursday, February 26

video: Powell Responds to Assertions on Bush Guard Service (Feb 12)
At a House hearing on the State Department budget, Secretary of State Colin Powell snapped when
a congressman suggested Bush might have been AWOL. "You don't know what you're talking about,"
Powell said to Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. "If you want to have a political fight, fine. But let's not go

The Tragedy of Colin Powell
The decline of Powell's fortunes is a tragic tale of politics: so much
ambition derailed, so much accomplishment nullified. .. From the
start of this presidency, and to a degree that no one would have
predicted when he stepped into Foggy Bottom with so much pride
and energy, Powell has found himself almost consistently muzzled,
outflanked, and humiliated by the true powers—Vice President Dick
Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Tuesday, February 24
RSS news feed (updated in real-time):

Monday, February 23

Got a GigaFast wireless NIC card from MicroCenter ($8 with rebate).

Now I'm looking for a PCGA-BP71 laptop battery (my old one won't charge).
On eBay it's going for $73 (+9 s/h). If you have an extra, leave a comment
letting me know.

Sunday, February 22

Nader enters race (video)
He's running without the Green Party endorsement this time, so he'll have to get on the
ballot state-by-state. He's reportedly targeting states where he can be a disruption (ie. Fla) ..

Nader said one reason to run this year would be to "raise the civil liberties issue involving
third parties and independent candidates generally."

His impact on the 2000 race left some feeling bitter, and many former supporters are now
urging him not to run. Two former Nader boosters in Colorado have founded a Web site called Also there's .

Thursday, February 19
Scientists: Bush Distorts Science
The Bush administration has distorted scientific fact leading to policy decisions on the
environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry, a group of about 60
scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The nonpartisan Union of Concerned Scientists released both a 38 pg report and a brief statement..

TOC of the Report:
Part I: Suppression and Distortion of Research Findings at Federal Agencies
Part II: Undermining the Quality and Integrity of the Appointment Process
Part III: An Unprecedented Pattern of Behavior
Conclusions and Recommendations: What’s at Stake

from the statement:
"Scientific findings on issues such as climate change, mercury emissions, and reproductive
health are being weakened or omitted in government reports and websites."

administration's response:
"We have to find a way to reach out to them and try to come to an understanding, because
this administration has in fact been very supportive of science."


Good Bye Lenin! (enter site | trailer)
October, 1989 was a bad time to fall into a coma if you
lived in East Germany - and this is precisely what
happens to Alex's proudly socialist mother. Alex has a
big problem on his hands when she suddenly awakens
eight months later. Her heart is so weak that any shock
might kill her. And what could be more shocking than the
fall of the Berlin Wall and and triumph of capitalism in
her beloved East Germany?

To save his mother, Alex transforms the family apartment
into an island of the past, a kind of socialist-era museum
where his mother is lovingly duped into believing
nothing has changed.

Wednesday, February 18

Is it over?
Dean leaves race

Edwards has some momentum, but Kerry with commanding lead
2161 delegates needed, Kerry has 448, Edwards has 161.
Delegates in Democratic primaries are split proportionally.
(Repub primaries are winner-take-all)

Exit polls show independents voting for Edwards, Dems for Kerry
because they think he can beat Bush...

Race to the Nomination - interactive state-by-state guide to the primaries
10 states (incl. California, NY, GA) decide on March 2, nicknamed "Super Tuesday"

George Stephanopoulos will interview both Kerry and Edwards Sunday on This Week.
ABC is calling it a head-to-head but the interviews are actually separate. The interviews
will focus on jobs, trade and the economy, health care, Iraq, and terrorism.

Kerry and Edwards have both agreed to participate in a debate slated for Feb. 26 in Los Angeles.
Talk-show host Larry King plans to moderate the debate, sponsored by CNN and the Los Angeles
Times. Kucinich and Sharpton also will participate.

from the Wash Post:
Edwards faces a tough road on national security:
"The rationale for Kerry's candidacy is Bush wants a national security debate, therefore you should
pick me because I'm stronger on national security," said Jennifer Palmieri, Edwards's press secretary.
"But why do we give George Bush the debate he wants? We're going to pick a nominee who's
strongest on the issue where he's weakest, the economy. Whether George Bush or John Kerry likes
it or not, the economy is the issue all Americans care about the most, not security."

after watching them both on this week, i think kerry'd make the better
candidate. he has the knowledge/experience to elevate the national
security debate, while john edwards doesn't. edwards needs to make
a strong statement - to show that he's more than the 'two americas'
guy, and i don't think he did that or is capable of doing that...

Tuesday, February 17

Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless may lead to more services, higher
for consumers industry-wide...

shareholders of AT&T Wireless will receive $15 cash per common share
or approximately $41 billion

The new wireless powerhouse now hopes to accelerate its offering of
advanced high-speed services, including wireless Internet and e-mail
applications and other offerings often called "third generation" or "3G"
wireless in the industry.

thousands of layoffs of overlapping positions at both AT&T Wireless and
Cingular expected

2/18 -
what acquisition means to customers:
Both companies use the same cell phone technologies, so customers aren't likely to be forced to change
equipment. And with federal rules requiring telephone number portability, they won't have to change phone
numbers, either.

Monday, February 16

44% of ESPN users call A-Rod to Yankees deal "disgusting" (vote)
the Yanks send Alfonso Soriano and a player to
be named later to the Rangers for the best player
in the game
and $67 million cash

In December, a proposed deal with Boston fell
; in January, Texas made A-Rod captain,
after which he said:"I definitely think I'm going
to be here [in Texas] for a long time. I'm
probably pretty sure it will work out for the best."

Alex Rodriguez: stats (.963 OPS) | contract ($179 mil/ 7yrs left)
Alfonso Soriano: stats (.824 OPS) | contract ($5.4 mil/1 yr)

fantasy spin - Rodriguez and Soriano are drafted in the top 3 (along with Albert Pujols) in most fantasy
leagues, and that won't change (view top 200)

2/17 -
the Boston Sports Guy's say:
"I'm not standing on the ledge. Not even close. I like this stuff. This escalating Red Sox-Yankees feud was
already the most compelling storyline in sports. Now it's even better. This baby is ON. ..

When you think about it, A-Rod selfishly took $252 million from the Rangers, knowing full well that they
wouldn't have enough money to surround him with comparable talent. After three seasons, he bailed on
them and left them for dead. Now he's a good guy because he agreed to play third so he can win a ring?
I don't get it."

2/18 -
Maddux back to the Cubs
Should be a great teacher for Mark Prior, Kerry Wood

top 50 free agents - and where they're going (doesn't include trades)

2/23 @cubs' spring training

Friday, February 13

"Through The Wire" revisits Kanye West's physical and emotional struggle
in the aftermath of surviving a near fatal car accident, a story told in
a deep lisp as a consequence of a surgically implanted plate in his chin.

official website - awesome design, 7 songs, 2 videos streaming on-demand

Jay Z's purchased the New Jersey Nets and hopes to move them to Brooklyn

grey album - jay z meets the beatles (dload)
rocafella yo know the name ....

2/25 : Lawrence Lessig on Grey Tuesday
Artists should at least have the right to free their content to mash or remix. And record companies absolutely should not stand in the way of at least that.

Thursday, February 12

"She's hot"
Conservative pundit Matt Drudge claims there is a
serious investigation underway at Time magazine,
ABC news, the Washington Post, etc into whether Kerry
committed adultery...

Drudge has been after Kerry recently, claiming Kerry
"hated Iowa" on Jan 17, claiming Kerry had Botox injections
on Jan 28 and providing a link yesterday to a Harvard
Crimson article
portraying Kerry as a radical liberal.

Over 7 million visitors daily read the former Fox News anchor's online reports.

2/13 -
Kerry's response :
"I think that they're in for a surprise. I'm going to fight back. I am a fighter. .. These guys will
want to try to do everything to change the subject. But the subject is three million jobs lost in the last few
years. It's health care that is completely unaffordable and unreachable for tens of millions of Americans."

2/16 -
alleged mistress denies she had an affair w/ Kerry: "I just deny it categorically. It's rumor. It's untrue."

Picture of Jane Fonda/John Kerry at the same rally is real; the picture of JF/JK on the same podium is fake - doctored with Photoshop

Media Analysis
Those who praise the major media for how they handled the story say they
hope that the relatively little coverage given to the allegation will serve as a
model for the rest of the campaign.

But conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and Internet muckraker
Matt Drudge say the media have just shown a liberal bias.


Drudge is pushing the envelope. His headline today :

"As Democrats express outrage over comments made by Education Secretary
Rod Paige [he called the the nation's largest teachers union 'a terrorist
organization'] a DRUDGE REPORT flashback can reveal Democrat presidential
frontrunner John Kerry Has Called Republicans 'legislative terrorists'... MORE...
In Jan. 1996, commenting on the federal government shutdown, Kerry called the
House Republicans 'legislative terrorists,' who used federal workers as pawns
and disrespected them. Asked about his terrorist comment, Kerry explained,
'Terrorists hold hostages, and the Republicans are holding the government
hostage'... "

Wednesday, February 11

Frontlines Of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan
60 Minutes II video of land mine, gunfire
Full text of story by embedded reporter Lara Logan

Lara Logan: "It was only when I heard the staff seargeant ask if I was all right and
heard someone say no, I think she's dead, that I realized I had to say something
or they were going to leave me there."

Tuesday, February 10

Under the CIA's current system, analysts are told about the reliability of sources but get no
other information, such as an explanation of the person's access to the information that he
or she is providing. Because of recent intelligence failures and misunderstandings in Iraq,
that policy is now changing.

Sunday, February 8

Pop-up windows
Trying to get JavaScript pop-up windows to work for some links...

Also want to put in a max line width, for readability purposes.
(I did carriage returns for some line widths that were too long already, but that's annoying if all my lines are going to be this long...)

Saturday, February 7

It's all right now (ESPN highlight)
20-0 - at the buzzer
Video, pictures, article available on website

ESPN dubs the game an 'Instant Classic',
will rebroadcast it on ESPN Classic
Thurs. (Feb 12) at 4 and 11pm PST.

2/16 - Stanford grabs the #1 ranking because former #1 Duke lost to NCState

2/18 -
heard on the Cheap Seats on ESPN during a representation of the 1982 Big Game (w/ the Band Play):
Randy: "Elway's nickname at Stanford was El-bag."
Jason: "Hey El-bag, you goin' to the Sig Ep party on Sat night ?"...

Thursday, February 5

Pepsi, Coke Censured in India
'The fact that pesticides were found in Pepsi and Coke bottles is beyond doubt,'
said Prithviraj Chavan, a member of the parliamentary committee. 'But the question
we need to ask is, did they break any Indian law? Are the Indian laws strong
enough? The answer is no. Indian safety standards are very poor.'

Coke Questioned on Its Dasani Advertising
Coke's Dasani water in London is just purified London drinking water.

Wednesday, February 4

The Only Official Website of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
International tourism arrival in the country saw an increase of 20.8% from 2002
to 2003 (with full 358015 tourists in December alone).

According to a global Lonely Planet survey touted on the website, the top 5
destinations for international travelers are (in order): Thailand, Italy, Australia,
and New Zealand.

On toilets:
In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between, and those that are
there should not be ventured into. Take every opportunity you can to use a
clean a toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit
wherever you go.

Tuesday, February 3

MetroCard Dispensers Breaking Down due to Tampering and Heavy Use
The tamperer's goal is to break the machine so that riders will be forced to use
the services of a person who just happens to be waiting nearby with a handful
of unlimited-ride day passes offering to swipe people through for $2.

...happened to me twice in two days in Manhattan. The MetroCard readers
only let you scan your unlimited-use card once every 15 mins or so, but if you
have multiple cards, you can just alternate between them. The single-use
cards cost $2 anyway, so the rider doesn't get impacted - it's the city that gets
ripped off. Clever.

Monday, February 2

Israel Puts Graphic Suicide Bombing Video on Web
The web site (cached) | The tape
Decision to put tape online causes public uproar

67+ killed, 247+ injured after two suicide bombings at Kurdish offices in Iraq

Israel tests anti-human bomb buses
Israel has come up with a new system aimed to stop human bombers
boarding buses by detecting the explosives they are carrying.


John Kerry in Doonesbury. In 1971.

Boston Globe's "Candidate in the Making" series :
< Kerry | Dean | Edwards | Clark >

Comparing the Candidates (interactive)

Sunday, February 1

IBM-Linux ads
The penguin's been usurped by Kurt Vonnegut, Muhammad Ali, and a silent blond kid.

Super Bowl ads (Past | Present | Janet)
FCC censored ad
Bush In 30 Seconds finalists. My favorites: Hood Robbin' and Bankrupt


Massacre Still Casts Its Shadow in Mexico
The Sept. 17, 1998, Ensenada massacre, with its unprecedented slaughter of women and children, is back on the minds of many people here because of a new wave of brutality by drug traffickers.