Archive for September, 2007

R.I.P. – Global Gag Rule

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Truth and justice for all

I received an E-mail today from the Population Connection people saying:

Yesterday, we won a major victory in the US Senate. In a sharp rebuke to the Bush administration, the Senate overwhelmingly passed an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to overturn the dangerous and hypocritical Global Gag Rule. The strong margin of victory, 53-41, would have been even larger, but because the vote occurred late in the day, several senators were unable to be present. Click here to see how your Senators voted.

The Global Gag Rule, imposed by President Bush on his second day in office, denies US funding to any foreign organization which uses its own money to provide legal abortion, offer counseling or referral for legal abortion, or engage in any political advocacy in support of legal abortion. Supporters of the policy say that it prevents abortions, but they can offer no evidence at all in support of their claim. There is plenty of evidence, however, that the gag rule hurts women and their families by decreasing access to safe and effective family planning services.

The Boxer Amendment is a tremendous step forward, but there is still a long way to go. The House version of the bill contains a much weaker provision, and even that drew a veto threat from the Bush White House. We will be watching closely as the legislation moves ahead, and we will keep you informed of its progress.

One of the major themes in my discussion of the coming Perfect Storm events is the contribution that women’s dis-empowerment makes to the overall problem.

Here, with Bush’s Gag Rule, we’ve had the world’s most powerful nation actively preventing women from knowing about and using some of their best options with respect to control birth. And all of this to serve an ideological viewpoint.

Thank goodness the composition of the Senate has changed so that we can begin to make better more science-informed decisions as a nation again.   Let’s hope the House does as well.

070905 – Wednesday – Brain surgery through a straw

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

The alert reader of this blog may have noticed that my wife is on the other side of the planet in New Zealand. Perhaps I’ve mentioned this?

She gone down for a month to do some redecorating in our apartment there and, I hope, to have a good look around Christchurch. Last February, when I left there and returned to the US, I tore down the computer setup I had there and packed it all away in the closet (I’m not obsessive – just neat).

Well, I was perhaps too neat in retrospect because at the time it ddn’t occur to me that the next person to probably grace our digs in Christchurch would be my wife. My wife who would want nice things – like Internet connectivity and E-mail – and who is distinctly not a techo-weenie.

Soooooooooo … it’s been interesting for the last three days – as we’ve tried to get her setup.

The current situation…

Ok, sweetie, can you find a network cable?

Jesus, Gally, there’s an entire bag of cables here. How do you expect me to know which damn one is a network cable?


You have to plug a NZ to US adapter into the NZ wall socket and then plug the US power strip into that. That’ll give us US sockets with NZ 250 VAC 50 Hz power. We can then plug some of our US gear that takes either voltage into it without needing more plug adapters but for some of the other stuff that absolutely requires 120 VAC, we’re going to have to use a power converter to change the NZ 250 VAC to US 120 VAC (still at 50 Hz), see?

All this is going on as the rat’s nest of wires on top of and under the desk is growing under my wife’s hands using my remote directions and as I am struggling to visualize it all from the other side of the planet.

my life, mate…

I know that every direction I give may be misunderstood so it’s an endless game of question and answer sequences as I try to make sure that what I think just happened on the other end of the phone/world, really did happen.

and more…

Oh sure, yeah I see, Gally! Why did you tear all of this down before you left – what were you thinking? I think we’re going to burn the place down with all these wires.

And this last followed by some cussing.

But, yesterday, with the help of a nice lady from New Zealand Telecom who I talked to from here in the US and who then called Sharon and guided her through the last steps, we established Internet connectivity! I can ping Sharon’s laptop from here and she can see Google and the rest of the world electronic.

Now, guiding a non-technical someone through technical matters over the phone is a tough slog and I didn’t want to do a lot more of it. I still have hopes that our marriage will continue to be a fine one and I don’t want to press my luck.

So, my next goal was and is to establish remote control over her system from here so I can go into it from here and set up all the nice-to-have techno-weenie tools like E-mail and file transfer facilities.

As part of this quest, I had to request (almost beg) New Zealand Telecom to open up port 25 for her system so that she could access E-mail servers outside of Telecom’s network. They frown on this because it opens them up for spam originators within their network.

I plead, “Please turn it on, I promise she is not going to Spam New Zealand.

Response, “Ah, do you have Firewall software?”

Me, “Yes, we have Zone Alarm.

Next question, “And do you have anti-virus software?

And I say, “Yes, it’s part of the Zone Alarm package.

Reluctantly, “Well, OK, we’ll submit a request to open Port 25.

Whew, audible relief from me. Apparently, most folks in New Zealand, who are with Telecom, have no idea that there even are E-mail servers on the planet other than the ones Telecom offers with their Broadband package and within their network.

Well, the saga has it’s good points and its bad. Sharon got tired of waiting for me to figure out how to link her to her real E-mail here so she surprised me and jumped out onto the net and grabbed a Hotmail E-mail address. “Go, Girl!

Now she can complain about my cluelessness to her girlfriends via E-mail and telephone – so we are making progress.

That’s good because establishing remote control over her system from here has thus far been like trying to catch a pig slathered in crisco. I can ping her system but using the ShieldUp tests at, I cannot see that ANY of her ports are open and visible. Telecom has her behind a tall wall through which nothing (so far) other than port 80 Internet traffic and pings are coming and going.

Techo-Rapunzel, you binary witch, let down your hair of 1024 or more accessible ports on this IP address“, I murmur through the wires. But thus far, Telecom’s chastity belt – ah, she’s a tough one.

I’ve bounced off with both Radmin and with XP’s Remote Assistance Utility. The DSL 502T ASDL Router she has there connecting her system to Telecom’s network and the Internet? I suspect that rascal has a little firewall hiding within it bouncing off all that I send towards it with muffled cries of, “Better luck next time, Mate.” and “Bugger off, eh!

My newest plan involves trying a program I found at According to the hype, I can use it free for 30 days and it can establish control over a remote system by doing everything through port 80 – which we know is getting in and out.

Well, several of my other bright ideas have sat there smiling and patted the bed and told me how good it was going to be – but they didn’t work out either. We’ll see.

Just now, I’m waiting for Sharon to get home from a lunch with two of her new girl friends in Christchurch so I can ask her (cringe) to run one more (pretty-please) little installation program for me? I can only hope lunch didn’t involve too many Magaritas or Kiwi-Boom-Booms or whatever they have there. Or… maybe on the other hand, I should be hoping they did. Hard to say.

That’s it, folks. Ernie Pyle covered the tougher bits in WWII and I’m here doing the same in the world’s techno-trenches.

Signing off for now, bloodied but still unbeaten, I remain,

Your very teeny techno-weenie – Dennis