You say “Democrat Party,” and I am gonna call your boy “John Boner”

I can act like a third grader, too… and my joke is funnier.

I was reading back through Steve Audio’s blog because I haven’t lately and it’s a shame to miss such good stuff, and I found his link to Ezra and August‘s latest outburst of frustration with the whole “Democrat Party” catachresis. I do wish, some days, that I was one of those teevee pundits who they call to debate the wingnut welfare ninnies on cable news.

Every time they said “Democrat party” I would have to slip in a reference to The Big Boner. A million laughs, I tell ya…

I find this moderately disturbing

I played a small role in helping to break this story. I used a screen capturing utility for OS X called iShowU to grab the video from the Christian Embassy site.

Lambert emailed me via SteveAudio looking for a way to capture video from the Flash Movie on their site, since Flash Movies are embedded and impossible to download (as far as they know, anyway). Most interestingly, however, during the course of my poking and prodding of this little piece of Flash media, I was sincerely alarmed to see the phrase “Allow to access your camera and microphone?” pop up when I checked the settings. There was no “FUCK NO!!!!1!1!” button, unfortunately.

When I searched for the phrase “Allow [blank] to access your camera and microphone,” google took me straight to Adobe/Macromedia’s site, under the heading “Can others use my webcam to spy on me?

There’s a helpful paragraph there that says-

With the current Macromedia Flash Player, any site you visit can show you their own video, audio or other content. Ads and other applications that use the Flash Player cannot access your webcam without your explicit permission to do so. A privacy dialog window will appear whenever you encounter a Flash site that can make use of video and audio from your webcam. The Macromedia Flash Player Settings dialog window allows you to either deny or allow the application access to your camera and microphone.

That’s not a strong enough “No” for me. It just isn’t. My first question was “Is there any way to permanently disable this feature in Flash?” Current versions of the Flash Player for OS X have a check box that says “Remember,” but having had some experience as a Windows support technician and seeing DirectX and ActiveX controls exploited freely and cheerfully by malware authors, I am extremely wary of any program that allows remote eyes and ears to be opened in my home.

I am not the first person to notice this, naturally. Om Malik was just as creeped out as I am. He blogged about it and the someone named John Dowdell from Macromedia Support piped up in the comments to say “Now, now, girls… don’t get your panties in a wad. We’ve been doing this for a long time.”

I fail to find this at all reassuring. As an earlier commenter said:

Macromedia should put it in big, bold words during the install process that websites have the ability to remotely acess your A/V hardware and GIVE YOU THE OPTION TO PERMANENTLY SHUT THAT DOWN.

Some people may have a need for this, and power to them – but the vast majority of people don’t, and Macrodobe should really be upfront on this one, IMHO.

Alternately, make a version available with that functionality stripped out. I now have to go to a very high profile client of mine, someone who is EXTREMELY concerned about privacy (and justifiably so, btw, and that’s all you need to know about who and why) and say “I have some doubts about Flash Player and Adobe/Macromedia’s commitment to your privacy.”

There is no current Open Source alternative for Flash Player with a binary installer that runs on OS X. I am tempted to empty my PayPal account into Gnash‘s coffers in the hopes that an OS X binary will pop out soon.

I have to say, I can think of few creepier phrases than “Allow to access your camera and microphone?”

In addition to what I hope will be a lively and informative debate in the comments, I would also be interested in your thoughts on similarly creepy phrases…

Back out on the road

I honestly don’t know what got Willie Nelson so het up about it. Maybe it’s just because I am sick… again, and headed out on the road for four second hand smoke-filled days. And not to Benissa and Madrid and Brighton. Tonight is Spartanburg, South Carolina. Tomorrow is Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After that, Wilmington, NC and Charlotte, NC.

It’s gonna be fun, I am sure… it’s just that right now only one nostril is working properly (why DO they switch?) and I have about zero energy.

No rest for the weary, I guess.

Make a reservation now, Athenians

If you’re going to try and see the Rose of Athens Theatre’s production of ‘The Bible, The Complete Word of God (abridged)’, you better move fast, since Friday is completely sold out and the Thursday and Saturday shows are getting full.

Shows with tickets remaining are Thursday 7 Dec (8pm) and Saturday 9 Dec (8pm).

Call the box office at 706.769.9829.

It’s a very funny show, and unfortunately cannot be extended due to Lisa Mende’s commitments to another show in Las Vegas, so see it while you can!

I told you this would happen

If one digs a hole in the desert, pours money into it while setting it on fire, then prints more money in order to cover the gap caused by pallets of billions of dollars gone missing, what results is a massive devaluation of currency. See also: inflation, causes of.

Welcome to the five dollar gallon of gas, coming soon to a city near you:

The US trade deficit is near all-time records. By itself, this proves nothing: the US supplies reserves to the world system, and it can run any deficit that the world is prepared to finance. But, sooner or later the world may start to get other ideas.

So here’s the big question: is the age of the dollar economy lurching toward an end? Are China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and other big holders of T-bonds about to start a rush, or even a stately promenade, toward the exits? Let’s hope not, because the world is unprepared to replace the dollar with anything else. The euro is not suited for the job, and a joint dollar-euro system would need better central bankers than either America or Europe has got. An end to the dollar system would therefore be chaotic, inflationary, and very tough on world trade. The best argument for the dollar has always been: it’s not in anyone’s interest to bring it down.

Could it happen, though? Yes, it could. And it could be connected to that other unfolding disaster. As the “Pax Americana” goes to hell in Iraq – producing a nervous breakdown among the pro-war elites – let’s remember that security and finance are linked. Typically, the country that provides global economic security enjoys the use of its financial assets in world trade. And when the security situation changes, that privilege can be revoked. The consequences are unpleasant. Ask the British: after the sterling area folded, it took a generation for the UK to come all the way back.

Yay, us.