Friday, December 30, 2005

Nintendo DS

I'm away for the new year but I had a moment to post. I just bought a Nintendo DS with some Best Buy gift certificates I got for XMas.. It's pretty cool if you are looking for a handheld game system. The dual screens are really cool and the Wi-Fi is pretty cool as well. I reccomend you check it out.. If I find any cool games I promise to let you know...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holidays

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season.. Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwansa all celebrated in a perfet storm of holiday cheer!

I've been overwhealmed with family and the like. Gifts all over the place, stuff to return, stuff to read about.. got lots of books so lots to actually read.. Got an amzing CD set too "The complete Jack Johnson Sessions" by Miles Davis.. amazing stuff..

Bought a Nintendo DS with some gift certificates.. I'll let you know how that is.. I'm psyched.

Anyways, I'm just stopping in to say hi.. I've had too much going on to write but I didn't want you all to think I'd abandoned you.. There are some serious posts in the archives that I urge you all to read while I'm away..

Talk to you after the New Year.. stay safe!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Move voting machine hacking

It is too soon to be using electonic voting machines. We can't even build safe/unhackable operating systems yet. Letting bad software companies try and build voting machines is simply asinine.. The latest report comes after a test on a Diebold machine but it could happen on any of them.

War in the US

If the fact that wiretapping US citizens wasn't enough to rouse you out of your chairs and stampede towards Washington shouting "Impeach", there is an incredible piece in the Washington Post today. Basicly it tells us how in the days after 9/11, W tried to get the authority to Wage War within the US borders! Think about it.. W mobilizing the army to take over buildings that house activist groups.. or maybe military prison camps or tribunals.. who knows.. This guys thought then and thinks now that everyone is an enemy combatant.. He thinks he is a kind and we are all his subjects.. Actually, and there are so many parralells here, the man acts as if he is Saddam. He believes that dissent should be quieted and the military should carry out his will wherever he wishes... this man is sick and has to be removed before more damage is done to our once great nation!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Video Compositing

I was a video editor for 12 years. The thing I loved to do more than anything else was composites. When I did them, I had to do a lot of the work by hand, with 4 video decks running a complicated setup on the switcher, a synchronized effects box and then maybe even more layers on top.. it was incredibly complex work and I loved every second of it. Now a days it's a lot easier with computers and compositing tools.. This demo reel from R!OT Manhattan (a post house specializing in tv spots) shows you the amazing stuff they are doing these days and exposed some of the secrets that you as a regular viewer never even imagined...

TaskToy

Check out this website. It's a web application that manages lists of tasks. It's simple, clean, powerful and simply amazing to me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Netflix Rules!

I've sung the praises of Netflix many times but today they proved that they rule yet again.

Unlike most American companies, Netflix actually cares about keeping their customers so for the second time in 2 years, they have lowered their monthly fee for membership. They could have kept it the same and I would have been happy but nope..I got a nice friendly email telling me they lowered thier pricing and I would automaticly be billed less next month..

You know they could have totally just offered new members a reduced rate and kept us regulars in the dark.. but nope.. they were cool and lowered prices across the board. So, not only do I get amazing service from them, they keep charging less for it.. what more can you ask for from a company?

Now if only Tivo could get thier shit together I'd be in entertainment bliss.

Stop the Presses

I'm not sure what this site is all about, but this is a fun Myst like game.. I've been playing with it for a little bit now and I've gotten past 3 screens.. I wonder where it will take me.. It's really cool..

Ok.. here's an update.. First off, I solved the puzzle and it was a lot of fun.. very cool. The game is called Samorost and there's actually a second one too called (drumroll) "Samorost2".. check them both out.. they rule!

Live-Paintball.com

Remember last year how there was this crazy rumor (that turned out true) about the farm where you could hunt hot chicks in bikinis with a paintball gun? Well, they've turned it into an interactive website where you can actually do it online.. live.. in real time.. it's still testing, but the site is up and they are looking for testers.. enjoy...

Isaiah Zagar

Isaiah Zagar is an amazing artist. I live in the area of the city where you can see his art everywhere. It's in back alleys, on rooftops, it covers walls, it's all over and it's beautiful. The main showpace of Zagar work is his garden at 10th and South. He needs to save it and he can use your help. First, check out this article. Second, donate here and possibly get some cool art.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Electronic Voting Machines

Sorry.. when I start thinking about this topic I get a little crazy.. See, I'm a Software Engineer and I know I could build a damn voting machine that would work perfectly and be secure.. So I find it amazing that these huge corporations can't do it. Then I find it amazing that they aren't tested properly by the counties and states that deploy them!

But I know how government beurocrats think and I know how things go in Wall Street companies.. Nobody cares about quality here, it's all about people keeping thir jobs and keeping the stock price up..

We could do better!

Diebold CEO Resigns

Diebold is an evil, evil company that only cares about making money. I've talked about elections before and Diebold in particular and I've mentioned before about how thier voting machines contain proprietary software that they don't allow anyone (including the counties buying the machines) to see. I've also mentioned the amazing fight that they are doing over at blackboxvoting.org (I donate to them every year).

I didn't point you to this article though I should have:

Previous revelations from the whistleblower have included evidence that Diebold’s upper management and top government officials knew of backdoor software in Diebold’s central tabulator before the 2004 election, but ignored urgent warnings

But the thing that I couldn't stand most was the fact that their CEO, a huge supporter of the Bush campaign promised to deliver Ohio to the president in the last election:

The company was thrust into the center of controversy during the 2004 presidential election campaign, after O'Dell wrote in a Republican Party fundraising letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." The Canton, Ohio-based company is among the nation's biggest suppliers of paperless, touch-screen voting machines.

(from Business Week)

Well, finally he resigned and the world is now a tiny bit better place.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Toyota Tacoma

The agency who has been doing the Toyota Truck commercials deservers more business. I like these spots almost as much as the Burger King spots. My favorite is the Meteor one. This is just so well done. It seems so real.. the funniest part is the "wiki wiki" part at the beginning. There are others.. a bit more rare, but overall the entire campain has been very entertaining. Nice work by these guys.

Petitions

Found a cool website called petitiononline where you can "sign" online petitions, or set up your own. I signed one to bring "The State" to DVD.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

We can solve the big problems. We just need to try!

The problem in the world is that we don’t try to solve big problems anymore. At least we don’t try to actively solve them with big solutions. I’m talking about big huge solutions filled with resolve…the kind of solutions that don’t seem possible at first. Sure we make little attempts at fixing stuff. We make short term fixes and then wait until we need to address things again. But in essence we don’t solve anything.

As a race, we humans have shied away from the big stuff lately. In our past we have tackled huge problems: language, culture, energy, etc. I think that since we’ve become ‘civilized’, we decided we didn’t need to do anything else. It’s like collectively we became lazy and complacent.

I think we need to get off our asses and start thinking about solutions for big problems. We need to brainstorm. We need to debate about stuff. And not about politics and taxes, we need to start focusing our energies on tacking the big problems.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. I think I have a way to start us on the road to world peace. I think I can solve all the problems in the Middle East. I may not have it right, but I’ll bet my idea never crossed your mind. I bet you’re going to think I’m an idiot or something. But what I’m proposing here is an idea on how to solve a huge problem that nobody seems to want to solve.

Before I begin, let me just outline what I believe to be true. I don’t have the time right now to look up my facts so I’m simply going to outline a number of items for you. I think that while I may be incorrect on some of my assumptions, overall it’s the concept of the solution that is important to think about.

  1. Most, if not all Middle East problems, including ones that affect us here (like al Qaeda) stem from the fact that the Israelis live in the area given them in 1967 by the League of Nations.

  2. Arabs believe that the land where the Israelis should belong to them because it contains all their holy places.

  3. Jews have few, if any true holy places in their land that they care about

  4. By living where they do, Jews have enemies on all sides of them that want them dead at all times.

Ok, so here it is. The Jews should abandon Israel and move somewhere safer and we in America and in the other free nations should help them. Let Palestine or Syria or whoever have the land. Once this issue is resolved, there will be no more friction in the Middle East. All problems in the Middle East stem from the Jews living in Israel. Solve this issue and everything else falls in line.

Yes, I hear all of your arguments. Let me give you more of my solution. I know that the Jews have a right to the land and they should feel like they should stay. I know that asking them to move is a terrible thing. But sacrifice has to be made to come to a solution here and I mean sacrifice across the board.

The Jews need to leave. Really, is there a better solution? We all know that it’s only a matter of time before Arab nations develop nuclear capabilities and start lobbing bombs at Israel. Or perhaps they carry them into the US or Spain or Germany or wherever. Over the long term, if the Jews stay in Israel, there will never be peace.

So, we move them out. And we don’t just put them up in a Holiday Inn somewhere; we move them to a place that will be better for them across the board. Furthermore, we do it at no cost to them. But where would they go? This is a sovereign nation we are talking about here.

Here is where I’m going to sound really crazy but if you take a moment and think about what I’m about to say, if you allow yourself to dream a little and imagine it as a possibility, you may see that I’m making some sense.

I think that we should offer the Jews one of our cities. And not just as a place to live, but as a piece of land that they can make into their own nation again: New Israel. If we move them to our shores, they will be safe, they will be able to focus on developing themselves (instead of spending a huge amount of resources on national defense) and they will be able to live without fear of terrorism.

I’ve thought a lot about where to offer them land. First I thought about it from the perspective of a resident of the city that was being given away. Would I want to leave? Perhaps I would if I fully understood how important it would be for my country and for the Jews and for the world. That would be a case someone would have to make for me, and make it clearly and concisely.

But I’m not sure if a city filled with wealthy, settled, working people would be happy with the idea no matter how noble. So, I began to think of cities that were primarily filled with people who didn’t care that they lived there, that would gladly move if their situations could be improved. I began to focus on cities that were isolated due to a large number of poor people. Detroit for example.

We can move these people out of the city, buy them some land, build them a house, give them a job of some kind. Would they be amenable? I think they would. This would cost millions of dollars, but I have an idea for that as well which I will get to shortly.

I thought about Detroit for a while and decided against it, New Israel to have a chance to work would need to be settled with access to an ocean. And then it dawned on me. What city, what region in America is near the ocean and is virtually empty and has its residents already moved out? Yup, New Orleans. We should give the city (and the surrounding region) to the Israelis. We could build the levies and clean it up and present it to them. They would have an ocean, and be surrounded by the US. How safe would that be?

So how do we pay for this? How do we move an entire nation across the ocean? How do we pay to prepare New Orleans? How do we pay to move who is left in the area out? Its simple. Think about who benefits from Israel moving out of the Middle East? Almost the entire Civilized World. We could make a case to the world that this helps everyone and so everyone should contribute to making it happen. America shouldn’t have to pay a penny since we are giving up a huge chunk of our nations land and coastline but the EU should pay, Saudi Arabia should pay, Russia should pay, China should pay, Japan should pay. Coming up with the money shouldn’t be a problem.

The problem is convincing people that this crazy idea could work. If you think about it, this is the only barrier to this idea. The only barrier to relative world peace is convincing the world’s people that it is plausible. Think about that. We can have world peace if we just believed we could.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Remote Thermostats

I've got a problem and I've got a solution. The problem is that the heat in my house never works right.. the AC as well. The problem is that the room with the thermostat in it is the only one that has the desired temperature. The rest of the house suffers from the poor design of the delivery method (in the current case, air). I'm sure you have this problem since every house I've ever owned or lived in has had it.

If I owned this house and had the money for it I could put in a 2 zone system so upstairs would run seperately from downstairs, but that's not an option here and it's certinly not an option for most home owners.

In todays tech world I wonder why the heat and air systems are controled with such archaeic systems. The biggest advancement in thermostat technology happened 20 years ago when they came up with a timer so we could do mutiple temperatures throughout the day.

I say they need to come up with a thermostat that had 5 or so remote temp sensors that you set up around the house. The termostat used them all to get a whole house average before it made its decisions.

Don't tell me it would be expensive to manufacture.. It wouldn't. I'd be first in line to buy one.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Constitution

I think this is total bullshit but it's an interesting read nonetheless and a story to keep your eyes on..

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”


(full story)

The Baltimore Light Pole mystery

So by now you've heard the story of the stolen light poles in Baltimore. I find this story pretty incredible.. First off, to get away with 130 thefts of these huge poles you really have to have your shit together. First of all, you have to disconnect the electicity, secondly you need to have a nice neat way to lower the pole down, also you have to block traffic. I mean there are all kinds of reasons that make this a non average theft. Ususally people steal small valuable stuff that they can get to quick and get away with quick. This theft is nothing like that at all. These are huge fucking heavy poles (like 250 pounds).

All this to sell them off for $80 a pice to scrap metal yards? I don't buy it at all. A guy selling cans maybe, but a 250 pound pole? From what I've read these guys have a truck, cones, and probably uniforms too.. That's a serious investment for $80 a pole. Sure it's $10,000 but the risk/reward doesn't sound right at all.

Then there's the cop side of the equasion. How do you let thieves make out with 130 poles? I can see 10, maybe 20.. but 130? That's a lot of theft going on.. I mean wouldn't the cops know what to look out for?

Somethings really wrong with this picture and I can't figure out what it is..

Marshals on Trains now

Ahh.. so we can look forward to more innocent people being shot...

link

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Howard and Sirius

First of all, for those of you lost in space, Howard Sterns last radio show is on Friday so you should listen. Sadly I can't since no radio I can find can tune in WYSP. There is some kind of radio dead zone around my house. I've spent 2 weeks trying all kinds of crap with no luck at all.

The good news is that my Sirius is working and I'l be ready in January when Howard hits the air again.

Speaking of Sirius, it's not too late to buy the stock. It's trading a little below 8 right now. Some say that when Howard moves over, the stock will jump up 10-20% because he will bring in a shitload of new subscribers. Actually I don't care, I'm in it for the long haul. Satellite radio is here to stay folks. The XM/Sirius debate will become moot when in a few years all receivers will be able to pick up both services. There is no doubt in my mind that in 5 years most of America will have switched over to satellite radio. All the car companies are installing receivers. I’ve said this before.. how would you like to have 100 shares of NBC or CBS or HBO right now? Sirius and XM will be huge stocks in the coming decades and I pick Sirius since it’s trading at a reasonable amount and I can buy more. I’m in it for the long haul and there is no reason why at less than $10 a trade (scottrade, etc.) you don’t drop some money into it as well..

Don’t let me tell you “I told you so”

the symbol



This has been bugging me for quite a long time now and it's about time I addressed it. After 9/11 our fine leader followed the custom of all "patriots" and began wearing a lapel pin of an American flag.

Now this is a simple argument and it's quite obvious to me and should be to you as well. Everyone in America should be wearing this symbol of America except GWB... And I'll tell you why.. He is the fucking symbol! Think about it for a moment.. Why should the president of this country have to display his patriotism? He is the president!

Also, as an aside, the president (as the Commander and Chief of the armed forces) is not supposed to salute his marine guard and I believe any soldiers for that matter. Yet, he continues to do it.. putz.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This Aggression Will Not Stand Man!

The music industry sucks ass and we all know it. One of the problems is a huge lack of creativity. Mash-ups aren't new, but their idea is exactly what we need more of. Creative repurposusing is more than just sampling and I'm a hige fan. Of course Danger Mouse and the Grey Album was the perennial break out. ccc did an awsome mash-up of the beatles Revolver ("Revolved"). The creativity is out there, unfortunately it's being stifled by the labels..

Today is "Dean Gray Tuesday" and I urge you to protest with me. See, Dean Gray (an alias) has released a mashup based on the Green Day album "American Idiot" and it's pretty damn good. Obviously the labels have been trying to stop it's release. Today it's being hosted all over the place for download and we the public are being urget to download and distribute it as a protest. The website coordinating this effort can be found here.

Here is their blurb :

Only 10 days after its release, the mash-up album American Edit, which pays tribute to the acclaimed Green Day album American Idiot through some of the best mash-up productions of 2005, was shut down reportedly after received a cease & desist order from Green Day's label, Warner records, despite the fact that it was released as an internet only release with no commercial gain for the team of mash-up artists involved. In fact, the only possible profit to be made from the release was a plea from the creators of the album (known only by the shared alias Dean Gray) for fans who enjoyed the creation to donate to one of three possible charities that Green Day have been known to support. Furthermore, the mash-up versions were such fantastic productions that they were truly a departure from the standard Green Day performances and would not compete for consumptive dollars.

We hope to mobilize the online Mash-Up community by organizing a simple one-day organized event. Participants would be asked to post the American Edit album online for 24 hours only starting on Tuesday, December 13, at 12:00AM. Doing so is not intended to be a mass organization of music piracy but, rather, one single display of the consumptive power of the mash-up and home remix community in the hopes of encouraging the labels, publishers and artists who are curious about the mash-up community to consider giving the high quality productions of "illegitimate" music a legitimate consideration as a promotional avenue for all music.

We also hope to encourage club DJs and radio DJs to air portions of the American Edit release on "Gray" Tuesday and refer to this site by reporting their planned airplay in advance.


I'm a big fan of "Dr. Who on Holiday".. I miss the Daleks..

New Blog

My friend Tyler has begun his first blog. I'm not sure he's going to be able to keep up with it (blogging is kind of a habit you need to nurture), but if he does, I'll bet that he has a lot of cool stuff to say that needs to be read. I ask you, my fellow readers to give his blog a look and maybe comment on his posts, give him some encouragement, etc..

We need more people questioning the world and Tyler has always been one of them, getting that voice out into the ether is one step in the right direction for change.. something I've been fighting for since I stated all this...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dumbasses

I don't have an HDTV yet but I really want one. My problem is that I'm pretty wed to SD Tivo and there really is no HD Tivo that will work as I want it to. Also I have to save up some money since I plan to spend like $6-7k on the monitor. Anyway, this post isn't about mem it's about the millions of people who have purchaced HDTVs.

Apparently 50% of HDTV owners aren't watching HDTV at all and a large group of them actually believe they are watching HD but aren't. This comes from a survey that Scientific Atlanta did reciently. It is outlined here.

"Forrester [Research] predicts just seven million of those households will actually be watching HD programming from their video service provider in that timeframe, suggesting that many consumers are buying HDTVs but then not taking the additional steps required to receive HDTV services."


I liked this finding :


"23% of HDTV owners did not invest in special equipment to watch HDTV channels because a message at the beginning of the programs they watch tells them that those programs are being broadcast in HD."


This gels with what I've seen at peoples houses. Most people I've seen think that becasue their widescreen can stretch their SD signal to fit, that they are watching HD. Not only is the image distorted, but the video quality is generally horrible. Kind of humerous to me that one would spend over a thousand dollars on something and then never use it properly. Crazy

Drive Right Pass Left

Seems someone has taken up my cause. When I was researching starting my own website on this subject, I found this URL taken, it seems they have filled it up with a nice website. Support the cause and buy a bumper sticker from them right now. And then go out and drive on the highway the way you should!

From the intro :

I answer No because "Drive Right, Pass Left" goes beyond speeding and addresses the argument of proper lane usage on our highways. Proper lane usage and common courtesy go hand in hand in helping lower incidents of road rage as well as helps with traffic issues that clog our highways.

RC Helicopter

I've always wanted an RC helecopter. Ever since the day I first heard of one (I must have been like 12) I wanted one. The closest I came over my years was this awesome toy I used to have as a kid (can't remember the name) that had a helicopter attached to a control line and it would go in circles. You had two connected controls to handle rotor speed and pitch.. Was it called Whirly Bird? Man I loved that thing. I used to fly it in circles all day long, picking up the little guy that came with it and dropping it off..

Next was this game (again I can't remember the name) for the Apple I had where you would fly this chopper (side scrolling game) and pick up these people and rescue them then fly back to the base to drop them off.. Shit.. I wish I could remember the name of that game.. Played it for hours.

Anyway, I never bought a real RC chopper since they were so damn expensive and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fly it. I hear they are incredibly hard to fly. I did watch this tv program one year where this guy was building a kit helecopter. That was amazing too.. Just seeing the kit showing up on a truck with all the parts and watching this guy build it and then fly in it.. too cool.. Of course this is a teme today, I can't remember the name.

So, I was in Radio Shack yesterday (hate the store, topic for another post.. or did I post a rant about them in the past?) and I saw for $60 an indoor RC helecopter. How cool is that? I didn't see it fly, it was just sitting there. I turned it on in hopes to fly it, but the remote had no batteries. Though I did get to play with it a little to see it's quality. It's tiny and light and looks well made. I decided to buy one after Christmas.

So I found it on the Radio Shack website today. From the user reviews it seems like it's cool, but not any fun to play with since it only has controls for the tail rotor and the rotor speed. There apparently is no control for rotor pitch so you can only go up/down and spin on axis. There is no forward or backwards control.

Now let me ask you this. Who the hell spends the time and energy to build a model RC chopper that doesn't go forward and backwards? It seems the users found that you could weight the front of the chopper to make it go forward but how much fun is that? It's totally out of control.

So, now it's back to the drawing board for me. I'm going to start looking around for a cheap RC chopper to buy and play with. Until then....


and played with it a while

Thursday, December 08, 2005

R.I.P. Bud Carson

For those of you who are Eagles Fans, one of our greatest modern day coaches died yesterday at 75. Bud was an amazing coach and back in the early 90's he coached what I consider to have been the best defensive group ever in the NFL. That was the great Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons and Mike Pitt front 4 with Wes Hopkins, Eric Allen, Andre Waters and Seth Joyner behind them. I believe it was 1992 or 1991 when they set a record for least yards given up on run and pass and led the league in almost every defensive catagory. Bud died of natural causes.

Wasabi House

Just ahd lunch at Wasabi House II on South Street below 7th and it was really good. If you are looking for good sushi in the area, this is the place. I was really impressed with the freshness, presentation and flavor. I will have to go again to check the consistancy however.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

WikiLaw

Now this is a cool idea.. I'm going to do some work on this site when I get a chance. You should too.. It would be amazing to see what kind of laws we all come up with collectively... this could be the start of an actual democracy!

Yup I'm right

check out the video of the news report for Irvins arrest. It turns out that Irvin is a moron and that the law is totally fucked up.

First off, the cops would never have searched his car if he hadn't been pulled over. He was speeding 18 MPH over the limit. I'm no fan of speed limits so I won't really talk about this part. Though I will say that when I'm not activly evading police I never go over 14 MPH over. That seems to be the magic number. Whatever.

The part that makes Irvin a moron is that the search happened when he was arrested for a warrant for a previous unpaid traffic violation! Dude, how much could that previous ticket have cost him to pay? How hard would it have been for him to send a lawyer to take care of it? Moron.

Now on to the law. Notice in the video after the cop finds the pipe and the bag with pot 'residue' he says : "I'm not charging you for the weed, but for the paraphanalia". I'm only guessing here, but I assume having a tiny amount of pot isn't illegal. But having a glass pipe is???? Again I go back to my previous post on this subject.. how is it that having a shaped piece of glass in your possetion is illegal? I just don't get that at all!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The continuing saga of 12 oz. mouse

I'm starting to love this show. I'm not sure if I'm loving it becasue it is slowly revealing itself and making a tiny bit of sense, or if I'm loving it becasue most people I can find on the net are hating it. (see here, here, here, here and here).

A lot of complaints about the quality of the animation and drawing.. Who cares about the drawing, that's actually part of the charm. This show is about story and plot and mystery. People need to be force fed stuff in America, anything that's difficult is deemed crap and that's sad.

This show is probably the most difficult thing I've ever watched, but it is fulfilling. Try it out..

Glass possession should not be illegal.

Yes, I agree Michael Irvin is an idiot. Here is a guy who after a successful career as a football player was able to parley into a job as a highly paid TV analyst on ESPN. This doesn’t happen easily. Think of all the ex-football players that didn’t make it after their careers. So, what does he do? He gets arrested with a crack pipe in his car. Not smart at all. When he was a Cowboy things were different, nobody cares about football players getting in trouble with the law, but a TV personality is totally different. He could have lost his job over this. But I really have no opinion on the matter. I don’t care if he keeps his job or not and I really can’t say if what he did was wrong or right.

What I can complain about is the fact that he was arrested for having a shaped piece of glass in his car. What the fuck is this all about? There were no drugs found, just a pipe. Why is it illegal to have a piece of glass in your car? If it was shaped differently, like say in the shape of a bottle it would have been legal, but since it was shaped like a pipe it was illegal. How does one determine weather a glass object is a drug pipe or not? Is there a detailed analysis done? What if the pipe was for tobacco.. does that have a different shape? How is it that we are making objects illegal now? Isn’t this a little subjective? I could see if there were drugs in the car or if Mr. Irvin was witnessed smoking drugs. In those cases he should have been arrested because there are clear laws against those behaviors. But being in possession of a piece of glass? Crack possession is illegal, glass position should not be. What is wrong here?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Penguin life is Fun?

I've been watching a lot of Tivoless tv lately since my girlfriend has been bedridden with a back injury. The key thing is that I've been forced to watch a lot of commercials. What a drag it's been. First off, they need more variety. In little over a week of commercial tv, I've been able to memorize about 75% of them. This isn't cool at all. Each time I see a commercial, it would be cool to see something new. We've now gotten to the point where we mute them when they come on. What makes it interesting is that I can recite thier audio track. Sad..

Anyway, one of the commercials is for the DVD version of "March of the Penguins". I think this was a really great movie and I learned a lot about what the life of the Emporor Penguin is like. The strange thing is that they are trying to position the movie as a feel good Christmas movie and I really don't know why at all. The penguin life is really, really hard as those of you who have seen the film can attest to. The part that is just totally insulting to me (and should be to people who haven't seen the film and buy it becasue of the ad) is that they end the spot with a line like "See how fun it is to be a penguin!".. huh? Did the writer of this spot even see the film? Is huddling together in a mass pile of penguins for 2 months in a blizzard in Antartica with no food fun? Is spending a whole year to have a child and then loosing it because the egg slipped out of your grasp for 30 seconds fun? Huh? I just don't get it.

Its stuff like that that reinforces my hatred for the Hollywood marketing machine. What a bunch of pathetic fucks. Nobody complains though. Some people, like me, see and buy fewer movies than we normally would, but nobody notices. Ah well, what can one person do?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Don't knock It

I'm going to make a concerted effort to follow this rule: "Don’t knock it until you try it". If you think about it, this rule is huge and really important to all facets of life. Essentially it means that you really shouldn’t have an opinion on something that you’ve never done before. You have to "walk a mile in my shoes" first.

Think of how much better the world would be if we all followed this rule religiously. First off the Abortion debate would not be a debate anymore. Only women who had had one, or who were contemplating one could have an opinion on the matter. Same goes for the war on drugs. Nobody could be anti-drug unless they had tried the drugs they were rallying against. Same for religion, if you aren't of a certain religion you can only have a comment on it if you had been of that religion (atheism counts too) in the past.

Just think about it for a minute. Lets go back to the drug thing. Say there is a guy you see on the street who is a crack head. They wake up, look for money, maybe steal it, maybe sell their body, they get their crack, find a crack house, smoke up and then tune out for a few hours until its time to smoke again. Now, can you honestly say that your life is better than theirs? I've never done crack but I bet that it is an amazing way to tune out of "normal" society. Who’s to say that these people when they are on the drug aren't connecting with the universe in some spiritual way that you and I aren't aware of? I would imagine the argument would work even better if we were to apply it to pot or heroin or something...

The point is that we can’t judge people without knowing what their life is like. We can't judge experiences or beliefs unless we are in the same situation as those we are judging. I have friends who love the gym and look at me funny when I say I like to sit home after work and watch TV all evening. Who is right? Both of us? To each his own right?

Don’t knock it until you try it!

Friday, December 02, 2005

It sucks being a consumer these days

I’ve got two pet peeves I’d like to discuss for a moment. They’ve been rattling around in my mind for quite some time and I don’t know why I haven’t written about them yet.

Ok.. Let’s start with the easy one. Almost every store that has been built since about 1975 has two front glass doors. If you look, you will see this to be true. I ask you a simple question. If you have two doors, why is that inevitably one of them is locked tight? This is the case almost everywhere I go and it doesn’t make me happy at all.

First of all, if you were only going to use one door, why did you spend the money to have a second one? Secondly, if you are running a business your primary goal is to have happy customers and let me tell you something, having them struggle with doors does not make the best first impression.

Let’s think about the logic of having two doors. And here is probably where I get most angry. In America we have this unaccepted rule when walking and driving that we always stay to the right in two way traffic situations. This comes into play when walking on the sidewalk, driving your car on a two lane road, using a shopping cart, when you are a waiter going into a kitchen, essentially it happens everywhere. It’s a rule and if you don’t follow it, you are an ignorant idiot in my book. So, that takes us to the door deal. When you walk into a store with two doors, you would naturally use the door to the right, same goes for your way out. That would mean that both doors should be operational. In this case, all shoppers would be able to use the portal with no hassle or stress. But of course that’s not the case at all when one door is locked. Not only will you choose the incorrect door 50% of the time, but if there is traffic coming the other way you will have to take the time to work out who should go through first and that’s simply a waste of time.

There is simply no reason why a store should keep one door locked other than pure laziness. I can’t imagine more heat or air conditioning would be let out/in. I can’t imagine any reason at all that would mandate this waste. So, I complain about it every time I go into or out of a store and it’s getting to be a total pain in the ass. If you own a store or work in one that has 2 doors, open them both please.

So my second peeve is a complex one to describe since there are so many variations of the problem. I will instead describe the problem and leave the examples to you as an exercise.

A while ago someone thought of a really cool idea. They thought that at the point of sale, it would be really smart to allow people to swipe their credit/debit card in a reader so they could enter their pin or sign while the cashier is bagging or ringing stuff up, or whatever. The idea was to speed up the check out process and make the user experience more fluid and painless. Well, leave it to us to fuck that up.

Can you tell me the accepted system for these machines? Every one at every store is different. Not to mention that a small number of them simply don’t work and have tape covering them up with hand written signs on them that say “please hand card to cashier”. At Best Buy you run your card through the machine and then hand it to the cashier for them to type in your info -- this one is odd since it apparently adds work for the consumer with no gain at all. Some machines only do debit, some only credit, some you have to wait until everything is added up, some you can do before the cashier even begins.

My problem is that because of this fragmentation, the user experience is actually worse than if there was no machine at all. Every store I go to, I need to conduct a short Q and A with the cashier about the usage of the machine and the local customs. Fuck it, just rip the damn things out and let me hand you my card already. What a fuck up!

out the examples

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

On Apple crashes and backups

I found this photo (and it's caption) quite entertaining and interesting. The author makes a great point about redundancy.

It's a question of scale

You really, really have to be a huge geek (like me) to appreciate this web page. And let me tell you, I really did appreciate it.

Say good bye to the grid

For whatever reason, I pay a lot of attention to alternative energy solutions. It's not like I'm a hard core environmentalist, but I still find it compelling to create energy in ways other than burning fossil fuels.

I've talked a bunch with people I know about setting up a collective energy generation station type deal where a group of people would all fund a power plant that they could all benefit from. So, for example they could set up a big windmill or a big solar array or a big natural gas powered fuel cell. This way they would not be dependant on the grid and would be able to sell excess power to the power companies.

The problem is finding a group of like minded people and then organizing, buying houses near each other, etc.

The alternative is to do green power on your own. This is possible in some cases, in NJ you can do solar really cheaply if you have enough South facing roof area (like I talked my family into doing at a house of theirs in NJ). In other cases you can do wind if you have a bunch of money to throw at it, or geothermal if you have the right location, etc.

Now, in Massachusetts, there is a pilot program being set up to test single home power plants that use natural gas to generate 1Kw of electricity and generate heat as well. This is a growing thing in Japan where 20,000 of these units are now in use.

This is cool stuff. I wish we could get our PA lawmakers to push for something like this. PA, unlike NJ is really behind the times with alternative energies and when I build my new house in a few years I may actually do it in NJ since I can get so many credits and cool rebates for doing it Green.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fuck seti@home

A long long time ago when they first started out, I signed up to participate in seti@home. For those of you who don't know it is a distributed computing platform that was analyzing date for the SETI program.

I had it running on 4 machines at one point and it was really tough to manage since they didn't allow you to register the machines asa group. You had to have seperate email addresses for each account. That wasn't too much of a problem for me at the time since I had 4 email addresses. I was able to at least group my results in what they called a 'team'.

The problem was that to manage the accounts I had to deal with their incredibly slow web server. It was a pain. As a group I had completed hundreds of work units (each unit took about a day to complete). It was tough to manage them all since I chagned email addresses sometimes and I couldn't have easy to remember passwords on their site.

Finally I gave up and stuck with one account. All of that work was useful for them, but I had no way of gaining recognition for my work. The account I stuck with had over 500 units completed at the time. I had it running for a year or two after that point and the problem was that I had changed my email address and forgot to let them know. I had also lost the password they gave me. That meant that there was no way to log into the account and change the email address to my new one. I let the program run anyway.

A couple of years ago I found the password and changed the account to my new email address.

Seti just changed the way the do processing and are migrating accounts to their new system and sent me an email about it. I haven't run the software in a while and thought, hey, I can get back into this. I logged into their website to try and migrate my account.

Guess what, their web server is still slow as shit and it took 10 seconds per page change to work. That would be find if it would accept my account info. It didn't. It said at one point "a registration key will be mailed to your account email address, enter it here". I waited, and waited, never to get the email. I tried all kinds of ways to get into my account, any account. I tried all my old accounts, everything. All told I spent 2 hours trying to get set up. No luck.

Finally I tried to contact them. Surely a longtime user (early adopter nonetheless!) would get some help. Nope, no way to contact them. They do have a help message board, but of course you need your account info to log into it.

I've got a machine that runs 24/7 that could totally be helping the cause, but they can go fuck themselves!

Ok.. I'm really going on vacation now. bye!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The elusive equal sign sticker

So let me tell you about something that has been a bit of an obsession for me over the past 6-8 months. I have seen this sticker on cars that has no words on it, just a symbol and I've been trying to figure out what it means. I have tried numerous times to find mention of it on the web (don't get me started on how the "Internet as an information source" has failed me yet again) to no avail and I haven't found a person who could help me either.

I've given up and I'm asking you guys to help me out. The sticker is a simple one. It's a yellow equals sign "=" on a dark blue square. That's it.

Today I came close to a breakthrough. I'm driving along and low and behold I see the sticker on a car in front of me except this one has writing below it. I needed to get closer so I could read it. The problem was that I had decided previously to let a car in ahead of me. I had to let the guy in and of course I lost sight of the car in front and the sticker mystery continued.

That is until about 2 minutes later when I found myself behind a car with an anti-bush sticker. I of course raced up to check it out. It said quite simply "George W. Bush, you're fired!". The interesting part is that at the bottom there was a tiny yellow equals sign on a blue square attached!

Ahaa! I exclaimed.. Mystery solved... it's simply an anti-Bush sticker of some kind. Of course when I got home I started looking for anti-bush bumber sticker sites. I actually found a huge one here (along with a number of other great stickers for the anti-red state cause). Who knew that there were so many anti-bush stickers?

Of course, I couldn't find any image that was even close to the equal sign. Perhaps they borrowed the image from some other movement for their anti-bush sticker? Perhaps it means something else like anti-war? You got me.. I still can't find this damn image anywhere..

This is really frusterating. On the one hand, I love that there is a symbol out there that means something and the popular culture machine hasn't gotten a hold of it, yet on the other hand I hate that there is something cool out there that I can't participate in before it gets subverted by the popular culture machine.

Well, I guess I'll just keep on wondering. Have a happy holiday everyone, I'm gone for a while.

The way we vote in America (repost)

note : the following is a repost of something I wrote in one of my old blogs on 11/4/04. The original post is here.



I've got a lot on my mind lately so I'm going to try to get it out in chunks. This first thought is about voting in America. I've complained a bunch about this issue here in a number of ways, from a number of angles, but here I want to just get it out all at once.

I could complain about voting and elections on local and state levels but I think that by focusing on complaining about and trying to fix presidential elections, any changes that happen will trickle down and help those smaller elections implicitly.

So, there are 4 main issues that bother me about voting and elections. They are (in no order):

- The machines
- The primary process
- The voting math
- The Electoral College

The top two issues should be combined and become sub-headings in a main issue called : "Letting States each have their own process". Lets talk about that first.

I've argued before that there is no need for states anymore. We are way past that phase of our existence. If you think way back to before our founding, you will see that we were simply a group of states, all with similar values but each with different local ways of doing things. Uniting seemed to be a good idea in the face of opposing forces like England so that's what we did way back in 1776. At the time, there were differences of opinion on how things should be handled at the state level so states got to keep a bunch of power and were allowed to make tons of decisions. That made sense and in our infancy as a country it was a good thing because the states had a serious hand in shaping what collectively would be our national focus and image and belief... (see civil war)…

But now, states are about as useful politically as our appendix. In fact, I feel that states end up causing more problems for our growth then they solve. When a group thinks “me first” all the time, the group as a whole suffers. I could go into this more and provide examples, but this is a post about voting and elections, not the abolishment of states, so I will leave it as an exercise. But think about it for a moment, what does having states gain us as a country? Think more about how cool it would be if as a country we had, say, a federal driver’s license, one where everyone driving had the same test. Staying on driving, think how much more competitive the auto insurance business would be if it could offer the same product in all of America instead of tailoring each offer to the states myriad of laws and regulations…

So states have all this power over federal elections and it’s very odd to me. Each state can decide on how to record the peoples votes, they can decide when to hold the primary elections, they can decide how to hold the primary elections, they can decide how to tabulate the votes and all oversight belongs to them. Now, why should a federal election be decided by a bunch of different methods? Why is this logical at all?

So, back to the machines. Says Mark Christian Miller in Salon today:

“Talk to anyone from a real democracy -- from Canada or any European country or India. They are staggered to discover that 80 percent of our touch-screen electronic voting machines have no paper trail and are manufactured by companies owned by Bush Republicans. But there is very little sense of outrage here. Americans for a host of reasons have become alienated from the spirit of the Bill of Rights and that should not be tolerated.”

This is true. 80% of the new computer voting systems are completely unaccountable. If there is a recount, the people who do it press a button on the machine and it spits out the results again. There is no way to be sure that the votes are valid (meaning, what the voters intended). I’m a computer guy and I feel that with some work I could probably personally come up with an ideal voting machine in software, but in today’s climate, that will never happen with Diebold and the other voting machine makers. They have proprietary code that can’t be checked or verified by anyone external to the company. This is just silly. But it is accepted because there is a huge market. There are at least 50 separate groups of people deciding on which machines to use and within those 50 states, there are in some cases individual counties deciding. If we had one standard voting machine, then there would be one debate on which to choose and the chances of it being the best choice would go up considerably.

There are a few resources to check on this issue. First is an article in the Jan 04 issue of wired about the battle over putting new machines into a county in California. Second is a great website called Black Box Voting that is a watchdog over all these different machines. Third is a great article in Scientific American called “Fixing the Vote” (October 04 issue).

The Primary process in America is a mess. These elections are the foundation of the general election and in my opinion, much more important since they determine the candidates. What I don’t like about the process is that it happens on multiple days. This is an enormous problem for two reasons, it gives certain individual states too much say in the process, and it encourages fear in candidates. The two problems are related to each other as you will see.

So, there are a ton of candidates before the primaries. They all have different points of view and different qualities, some agreeable, some not. But each has his or her own agenda, their own plan. Each is a separate candidate. It is up to us, the members of the party to determine who we think best represents us. It’s up to us to decide who we think can win in November. This sounds like an ideal process doesn’t it? It is.

Lets look at who I could vote for in my primary in Pennsylvania… John Kerry. That’s it. By the time the election got to me and the rest of America, every other candidate had dropped out of the race. Why? Because in the first few primary elections, they lost, or didn’t come in first or second. So they figured they would have no chance. They got scared and their money dried up (since the backers got scared) and had to stop campaigning.

So, because we let some states hold primaries well in advance, the election is held mostly in those states. The rest of America has its choice made for them by Iowa. We are, in a sense disenfranchised from the process. How is this the best way to hold an election? It should be on the same day, the same way, everywhere in America.

Now, I know you’re going to complain and say, “Well those states would otherwise be ignored by the candidates”. I will counter and say this “of course they will, they have low populations”. But I will add this statement to that. In America, with television and the internet and radio, we are in touch with the candidates messages like never before, we don’t need them to come and pander to us. I could care less if a candidate came to my state. I have their websites. I can read their messages and make my decision on my time, in my own home.

So, in my world, we’ve got 10 candidates running together. Can we have a fair election with 10 candidates on the ballot? Have you ever thought about this? Say there are 1001 voters and 7 candidates got 100 votes, 2 candidates got 90 votes and the 10th got 120. In our current system, that candidate (with 12% of the vote) would be the winner. Is this fair? Let’s look a little bit deeper at this…

Say your candidate in the above election was one of the ones with 90 votes, let’s call her candidate A. The winner, candidate X, is someone you, and a bunch of your fellow A supporters, completely despise. If you, and they, knew he was going to win, you would have supported candidate B which was one of the ones with 100 votes and you may have swung the election. This is analogous to the Nader factor in the 2000 election. Most of those voters would have voted for Gore if they knew Bush would win. In a sense, by voting for someone they wanted, they helped someone they didn’t want get elected. Their vote had more power than it should have.

This is a very well understood problem and one that is very heavily studied by mathematicians. There is an amazing article on the subject in the March 2004 issue of Scientific American titled “The Fairest Vote of All”. It seems that most experts on the subject agree that the plurality system we use now is the worst of all the possible choices. This needs to be studied not by mathematicians but by election boards.

And lastly my favorite whipping post, The Electoral College. I won’t go into this too much since it’s been brought up so many times by so many smart people and, like the vote counting systems, it is roundly considered antiquated by the math people. In the 10/15/04 issue of “The Week”, they have a briefing on the College and say that it was developed as a way to stop bigger, more populous states from using their population to elect one of their own as the commander in chief:

“When the founding fathers were drawing up the Constitution, in 1787, there were no political parties, and no real national media. The founders feared that uninformed citizens would simply vote for “favorite sons” from their own states. This prospect particularly alarmed small states and the South, who assumed that Virginia, New York, and the most populous states would elect their own leaders as chief executive every four years. To dilute the big states’ power, James Madison and several other framers devised the elector system. They assumed that the electors would be selected from the ranks of the educated and politically involved, so their choices would presumably be more high-minded and less provincial. To ensure this, the electors were required to submit the name of at least one out-of-state resident in their choices for president and vice president.”

Well, we see that the intent of the system, while good, is a) not how it works today and b) hardly necessary now. If you agree that states are not as useful now as they were in 1787 and agree that every persons vote should count equally (which it doesn’t by the way with the EC.. the same article in The Week explains “a sparsely populated state such as Wyoming—with just 500,000 residents—has one elector for every 165,000 people. California—with more than 33 million residents—has one elector for every 600,000 people. In other words, a vote cast in Wyoming has about four times the weight in the Electoral College as a vote cast in California.”), you would think that the system should be scrapped, or at least changed in some significant way. The election of 2000 and a few others were won by people who didn’t even get the majority of the vote. Is this right? Hardly.

So, that’s my rough outline of what I don’t like about the way we vote here in America and if you agree with me in any way, you have to do something about it. You can’t just sit back and say “yea, totally the way I feel”. You have to amplify this message. You have to write about it yourself, or talk to others about it, or contact your senator or congressman or sate government. We as a people have to change the system for the better and by just reading about it and saying to ourselves that things are fucked up we do nothing. I know there are a lot of people who agree that we need to change the system. The roots of change are certainly becoming evident, but we have to do more. So do something people. Link to this post if that’s all you can do. We need to change things and I’m sick of just getting mad about it.

Diebold is an Evil company

A while ago I talked about how Diebold virtually gift wrapped the Ohio election for GWB last year. Diebold is a company more well known for their ATM systems (I can't for the life of me say ATM Machine since it is redundant) but also makes voting machines. There is a piece in ARS about how Diebold is trying to subvert the amazing (read : I wish we had it here) legislation for electronic voting machine transparency in N. Carolina. Now I don't know the details of the case but it seems like Diebold is up to their old tricks of making the voting process a black box that only they control.

I have argued this point before. There is absolutely no reason for there not to be an open source voting system that is universally accepted by the government. Let Diebold build the machine, but let the software be transparent and of course make all persons votes be verifiable by the voters!

Sonic

Someone made a flash version of Sonic (from Genesis days) that is pretty impressive. Check it out.

"How I Met your Mother" part 2

A little way back I reccomended that you check out the show "How I met your mother". At the time, the show was edgy and dry and pretty good. Since then the show has been going downhill by my standards so I don't reccomend it anymore.

I think that as of about 3 episodes ago, they (the network) decided that the show was a hit and then totally got thier grubby paws into the writing of it in some way. I'm not sure exacly what changed about the writing, but it has changed. It is getting more clean and the jokes are getting more obvious and cliche.

I've noticed that they are also quickly getting away from the "how I met your mother" concept and are cutting the kids time in the front on a weekly basis. That part is fine with me, but it does show quite clearly that there is re-tooling going on so my idea of wiring changes isn't totally out of left field. You can be the judge, but the show is off my list. Damn network suits!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Wanted : Ted or Alive

I love the show "Wanted : Ted or Alive" on OLN. I love it not becasue it has guns or a hot babe as a contestant. Not becasue it's fun to see Ted Nugent toally fucking with people.

Nope, I love it becasue it's on the air and that's amazing to me. Here is a show where Ted puts guns in the hands of people and haves them shoot at tv's. Here is a show where Ted forces people to hang on crosses. Here is a show where Ted has people kill their own dinner. And yet, the religious right and PETA haven't tried to kick it off the air!

Perhaps it's becasue Ted has American flags everywhere. Maybe (and I'm guessing) he's a replican donor? Whatever, this show is crazy and a bit offensive, but I'm amazed at its bravery so I give it my thumbs up.

Now that's the way to advertise

It's not that I hate advertising. It's that I hate bad advertising... a lot. I like that advertisers and marketers are trying new ideas. One of them, from Budget Rent A Car seems to feature our wonderful city.. Cool no?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Adult Swim

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Adult Swim Rules! Adult Swim is a set of programming on the Cartoon Network designed for adults. Not your normal adults mind you, adults that have a very non-american non-sit-com sense of humor.

Originally I found Adult Swim when I started watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force a number of years ago (I've now seen just about every episode). Anyway, this season I started watching Boondocks (which is pretty good so far) and then saw promos for two other shows: 12 oz. Mouse and Squidbillies.

First off, Squidbillies is pretty funny. It's surely quite odd so beware, but it's really funny so I reccomend it.

Now, 12 oz. Mouse is another story. A while ago in one of my previous blogs (I can't find the post) I proposed a show idea for network tv that was going to make no sense at all to the viewers. The shows sole purpose was going to be attempting to be something that tv is not. Hard to quickly explain but the idea was that every week you would be compelled to watch so you could figure out what the hell was going on. My first episode was going to be 30 minutes of a non moving camera in the living room of a house with no sound. It was going to be completely odd and fucked up.

Well, 12 oz. Mouse is close to that concept. This is the most fucked up thing I've ever seen on tv. At first if was hysterical, then I realized that it was funny becasue of how strange it was. Soon the strangeness got so bad that I noticed I was staring at the tv in silence with my mouth open. When it was over I wasn't sure what the hell the point of the show was. But, I will be watching next week and you should too. We need more fucked up tv stuff.. Enough with the cookie cutters!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Childsplay

Ok.. If you have been following the Eagles this year at all, you will love this animation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hate to say I told you so

Went to the Eagles game last night. First off it was amazing to me that in a stadium filled with 70,000+ fans I counted 2 T.O. jerseys. If I had had one I would have worn it. It seems to me that I am one of the few actual fans the guy has. I'm one of the few people who think it was an aweful mistake to have gotten rid of him. I'm one of the few people who think that people are total sheep and just follow the cues the media gives them. Does anyone think for themselves anymore?

I'm not here to make an arguament that T.O. would have made a big difference in the game yesterday. He would have, but I'll leave it there. I'm here to point out that yet again #5 has let us down. McNabb at times is a really good quarterback, but to me it feels like most of the time, he is simply just terrible. And this was my argument back during last season (as an example check the Feb comments on the superbowl in my old blog) as well.

McNabb is really not a good quarterback. In my mind the primary measure of usefullness and value in a quarterback is consistancy. Sure, brains and talent are important, but consistancy is the key to it all. And this quarterback has never been consistant. Ever. And the sooner we realize that, the better.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Drive Right - Pass Left

I've argued this point in the past. It's one of my pet peeves. I made up a cool phrase for it (see post title). It's something I think is super important for some crazy reason.

It's the fact that not enough people drive in the right lane. It's the fact that people call the left lane "the fast lane" and not "the passing lane". It's the fact that people are complete idiots and they proove it to me daily and that's just not something I can deal with.

So, I came up with a concept for a bumper sticker. I was planning on having an artist clean it up since I'm not an artist. I was planning on seting up a website and selling them online. I was planning for once to actually make good on one of my ideas.

But, more than one person told me not to bother, that most people don't care about the left lane infractions. That I wouln't make my money back and that I wouldn't change enough minds with the stickers. I kind of agree so I gave up the plan.

So, I submit the sticker art to you all. Maybe you can take up the cause instead.

In Defense of T.O.

Though I don't agree with Bill Simmons calling T.O. "insane" and "an idiot" and "a jerk", I do think he makes some good points and there's some funny stuff in this piece of his.

The 3 points he makes that I agree with are : 1) T.O. isn't the only one at fault here, 2) T.O. is an amazing player and was incredible in the SB when McNabb was shit, and 3) it would be pretty cool to see T.O. as a "pluggable" reciever

Friday, November 11, 2005

Yea Baby!

I was pretty upset when I started to hear that the battle for Intelligent Design was being waged in my backyard here in PA. But I have to admit, I hadn't been following this issue too closely. So you can imagine my happiness when I read this in a column today on the MSMBC website:


In voting Tuesday, all eight school board members up for re-election in Dover, Pa., lost their seats after trying to introduce "intelligent design" to high-school science students as an alternative to the theory of evolution.


The column is actually pretty interesting. It talks about how Pat Robinson has scolded the entire town for having "just voted God out of your city".

In this case, the voters were lucky that all 8 spots were up at the same time and that the election was so close to the debate. Next time we may not be so lucky. People, do your research and vote against these crazy people before it's too late!

Pro Bowl

Well, TO is probablly not going to be an Eagle much longer, but he does deserve to play this year. If he doesn't get the change in the regular season there's always the pro-bowl. I say we vote him in immediately...

Ikea in Europe has a sense of humor

Saw this post today in SugarBank and thought it made a great point. Why is it in America we have such a shameful view of sex? Do you think maybe this shamefulness contributes to society in a bad way? I do.

Human Upgrades

Someday the future will bring Human Upgrades..

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Religion Quiz

Well, I usually don't put things like this into my blog, but I'm very anti-organized religion and I thought that this quiz was kind of fun.. Although the questions weren't as well written as they should have been (very vague and in some cases I knew what they were trying to get at and answered that way instead) and the results weren't 100% accurate I still came out as an Athiest leaning towards Agnostic..

3 Inventions

Want to get these out there before I forget them. I came up with 2 new ideas today and also want to rehash a 3rd I came up with about 6 years ago.

First up is my concept of the progressive snooze bar. I think that alarm clocks should have a snooze bar that works for less and less time after each push. For example, first off it snoozes for 10 minutes, then 8, then 5, then 3, then 1, then it won't work anymore. This way you can be use the sneooze bar and not feel as guilty and it also protects you from using it so long that you are late.

Second is a simple idea. I think that on the edge of the sleeve in mens suits they should have a word embroidered in that faces out so when you shake hands with someone, they will see the word. It can be anything, perhaps your initials. In my dream state this morning when I thought it up I had the idea that on an honest sales guy the word would be "Honest" but the more I think about it, that is simply a terrible concept. Ok.. forget it..

Third is a good idea that I had a long time ago. I think that Companies should install small 4x6 LCD monitors in their employees cubicals and then sell the space on the screens to advertisers in 5 minute blocks. This way, a company like Coke could come in and put a visual ad on the screen of all the employees in a company at a time of their choosing. The company could charge a ton of money for this service. During a typical 8 hour day, there would be 96 blocks to be sold. That's a lot of eyes and that's a lot of ads.

Hmn.. maybe we could sell the space on our suit sleeves out to advertisers. Hmn.. now theres an idea!

TO

In Philly this is a huge story. I'm a Hockey fan, but I have been a football guy for a long time as well and here's my take on TO. I post this only becasue someone just asked me in an email and I formed a worded response that makes sense to me so here it is :

I think that football is about winning and TO makes us better so we should suck it up and put the guy back on the team. I also think it's sad that great talents in some cases (Tyson, Iverson, Moss, etc.) are recognized more for the social skills they lack than for the incredible achievements they make in their fields. I also think that the fans are a bunch of sheep being herded by the media. This is the same guy that played in the SB after an incredible heroic rehab and now we all hate him? I don't get it. We should be hating McJackass since he clearly is a detriment to our team (and lost us the SB) for whatever reasons. But we love him because socially he more of a better communicator. This is a sport about precision and performance and the players should not be judged on any other level than how good they play on the field. These people are not normal humans and they shouldn't be treated as such. They are not role models and heroes, they are robots that play a game for millions of dollars. Who cares what they say off the field? It's painfully sad to see this circus go the way it's going.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hung Up

I've always had a crush on Madonna and I haven't seen her too much lately. But a friend told me to go find and check out her new video for "Hung Up" and I have to say I'm quite impressed. For a 40+ woman, she looks fantastic. She's obviously quite proud of her ass and I for one can say that she has nothing to complain about.

A good thing

Here in Pennsylvania a bunch of folks have been angry about a pay raise that the state judges and legislators got a few months ago. There has been this crazy, grass roots effort to repeal the bill that enabled it. Personally I was for the bill since judges hadn't had a pay raise in like 12 years but whatever, who cares, I abstained from the argument.

The interesting thing is that the electorite here in PA actually directed their anger appropriately and voted out a sitting supreme court judge! This is actually quite amazing because of the way these elections are staged. For judges in PA, the incumbants go up for retension which means that they are unopposed and the voters give them a yes or no vote. It's pretty much unheard of for someone to get more no's than yes's becasue usually nobody votes either way and the small group that is the judges support group generally votes yes.

In this case, the people actually spoke. From the John Baer colum I linked above:

This is not good news for incumbent politicians who face the same electorate in 2006.

"Apathy is beginning to melt," says former central Pennsylvania state Rep. John Kennedy, a maverick and long-time advocate of legislative reforms.

He's right.

It is absolutely un-Pennsylvanian for anything like this to happen. It could well mean a new era of voter awareness and participation in a state where government has run amok unnoticed for at least a generation.

"This is the worst of all fears for incumbents," says Matt Brouillette, president of the conservative think tank Commonwealth Foundation. "I think this says that despite legislative efforts to repeal the pay raise voters are saying, 'we might forgive but we won't forget.'"

He's right, too.

The fact that so many folks said "no" indicates a willingness to say "no" to many more.


Lets keep it up!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sadly I know they are serious

I saw this in Playboy and had to see it for myself.. it's a form used by the Parents Against Bad Books in School group to determine if books should be banned. Anyway, the funny part is how they suggest one classify the level of "graphicness" of a books sexual content. (I hope kids aren't reading the site) :

For each type checked above also indicate level of vividness/graphicness using the following as a general guide:

Basic (B): large breasts

Graphic (G): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts

Very graphic (VG): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts with hard nipples

Extremely graphic (EG): large, voluptuous bouncing breasts with hard nipples covered with glistening sweat and bite marks

Amazon Mechanical Turk

How cool is this idea? Ok.. let me explain. There are problems that are extremely difficult for computers and software to solve, yet are almost effortless for humans to do. This fact makes building software quite difficult at times. Amazon has facilated a service called the Amazon Mechanical Turk that connects regular people like you and I to software systems.

So as an example say I'm building a piece of software that for some reason sorts photos into two sets, the first is photos with cars in them and the other is for photos with no cars in them. Determining if there is a car in a photo is pretty easy for you and I but crazy hard for a computer. So the software sends out the photo to the amazon service where some person somewhere determines if there is a car in it. This piece of data "Is there a car in the photo? Yes/No" is sent back to the software automaically and the problem is solved.

The human brains on the Amazon side of the equation are all compensated and eventually will be rated for the quality of their work, etc.

Essentially the service enables humans to become part of active working software. If this becomes big enough and commoditized enough I can see a piece of software being 50%-80% run by human brains instead of CPU's. How cool would that be?

At the moment, this is cool for you and I since we can apply to the service and get paid to solve simple problems in our spare time.

One final note, if you comment on this blog you will see the word jumble thing at the bottom to validate yourself. This is an example of a problem that is easy for a human but really hard for a computer. That's precicely why it exists. The interesing thing is that a spammer could concievably use Amazons service to counter this security measure. And so the loop is connected yet again.

Stupid, stupid people

Yea.. There was a post on C-Net about a bill in front of the Westchester City Council (outside of NYC) that would require by law that anyone with a wireless access point would need to rout its Internet connection through a firewall server of some kind (hardware or software).

This is just silly on any number of levels. First off is the obvious one: Who are they to tell me that I need to protect my network? Are they going to then require that I secure my house with an armed guard 24 hours a day? This has to be some kind of infringement on my rights.

Secondly, how are they going to enforce this law? Are they going to psysically come into my house and inspect my network? What's to stop me from installing a Firewall, but turning it off or making it do no filtering? Are they going to then decide what ports and types of data I need to filter?

This bill will be struck down by the courts in about 2 seconds. Or maybe it won't be. Yet another reason our govenment is simply fucked.

Dark Tower Comic Book

For those of you who have taken my advice and read Steven King's amazing Dark Tower series, here is something that should be interesting to you. It seems that SK is teaming up with Marvel to make a Dark Tower Comic Book. How cool is that?

Election Day

Today in America it is election day. I would imagine that this knowledge puts me in the minority. Sure there has been a huge increase in lawn posters and negative attack ads on tv, but I would bet that most people have no idea that the election is actually today. Of those who know, I would bet that only about 50% are actually planning on voting. This is the sad, but true fact of the American electoral process.

I want to address each of these points. Instead of separately talking about them, I'll do it at the same time since they are totally intertwined. They are tied quite obviously in the fact that most people don't care about voting (or the government) so they don't know (or care) when election day is.

Why don’t people care? That’s a huge question, but it’s easy to see the answer in broad strokes: people feel like no matter what they do they can’t change anything, people don’t care about the day to day of government and only the big ticket issues that they are fed by the media (I’m including church and friends as media messengers here), people like to complain because it’s easier than actually working for change, etc.

I believe that the real reason people don’t care is that they don’t understand how important their vote is. I don’t think they get that government will keep running the way it is if the people in it have no fear of retribution. We voters are the check against government that doesn’t go the way we want it to. When we see congress interfering with things and we complain, it’s too late. We put these people in office.

If you don’t vote you can’t complain. I vote so I can. In fact, every election I do something some would find quite odd. With a few small exceptions I vote out every incumbent and my vote goes to the least publicized and financed opponent. I do this because I’m sick of the everyday politician (democrat and republican). I do this in hopes that someone who isn’t a politician will get elected. My ultimate dream is that we as a people will elect a group of these idealist candidates into office and they will be able to make some changes in the way things work in our capitals.

Anyway, we need to instill upon the people in this country that their vote really counts. We need to educate them. This is our central problem: People just don’t know.

I suggest we do something that hasn’t been done in quite some time (if ever).

First we need to teach our children how the government works. We need to make sure that every child by the time they get to high school knows the following facts:

1) The 3 branches of government and how they check and balance each other
2) The fact that we live in a Republic and what that means in terms of representation
3) That as a citizen there is only a few ways that you can interact in the governing process and the most direct is by voting.
4) That you are part of a group, a community, a society and that if everyone were to vote, your vote would count (even though you may believe otherwise) since you would be representing your group and you will help them realize their voice.

Secondly, we need to educate the public on the same facts as Election Day nears. We need to make the poor and the disenfranchised see that they will always remain where they are if they don’t vote. We need to make the complaining middle class understand the same thing. The system can work if we all participate.

I would propose an FCC regulation that TV networks need to spend an equal amount of time promoting civics and the election as they spend airing political ads. Think how amazing an hour of election education on each network would be for our process. Think how many more activists we would generate. Think how much more power the people would have in deciding who governs them.

I do my part in trying to change the world. I am active as a citizen, as an educator and as someone who hopefully fosters debate on issues (both from this tiny blog). I urge you to do the same if you care about our country. I urge you to take some of what I’ve tried to say here and pass it on to others. We as a people need to improve our country and our American society and the only way to do it is by doing something yourself instead of just saying "yup, I agree".

Friday, November 04, 2005

Peter Gabriel Be Dammed

My favorite video from back in the 80's was Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer". At the time it was just amazing that they had gone through all that work to make it. Who would have thought of a stop motion video? Well, Daniel Levi has topped "Sledgehammer" with his awesome video for Plan B: "No Good" . I think you should check it out.. It's way cool.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Uh Sorry

.. At what point are the voters going to complain about the infringement on the rights of these rehabilitated ex-convicts? First it's limiting where they live, next it's banning them from leaving their houses on Halloween, and now it's GPS Tracking.. I am horrified that nobody is coming to the defense of these people.

Ultralights

As someone who has taken quite a few hours of instruction in flying (40+, did solo flight but I never got the chance to finish) I think I'm qualified to say that flying is really hard and really dangerous if you aren't properly instructed. Having said that, I have to now tell you that the current regulations by the FAA reguarding ultralight flying are simply insane.

The regulations are simple, there is no regulation for ultralights. No licence needed to fly them at all. Amazing no?

I've personally heard of 4 fatal (or almost fatal) crashes by ultralights (most reciently here) and I can't figure out why the FAA allows people to buy, assemble and fly these crafts without any licence. It's simply insane to me. How is it that our government doesn't belive that these planes are as dangerous (if not more dangerous) than flying a regular small plane?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Punkin Chunkin

Dammit! I totally forgot about my favorite outdoor event that I've never actually made it to.. Punkin Chunkin. I was reminded by Ryan in a comment that it's going to be on tonight at 6pm on the Discovery Channel.

It's an even that is near here and I really want to do since I'm a gun, catapult, trebuchet fan and well, how cool of an event is this to go to? Huge guns and contraptions built specificaly to heave pumpkins far distances..

Next year I'm going.. promise!

Civ 4

Ok.. like I said, I have Civ 4 sitting in front of me. I am having trouble installing it since I know, I know it will envelop me and I'm not sure I want to be obsessed right now.. I'm not sure I want this game ruling my free time.. I know I have no will power.. Hmn.. what to do...

Music

Bought the new Depeche Mode CD.. not very impressed..
Bought the new Fiona Applie CD.. not impressed at all
Bought the new Sigor Ros CD... yea.. not too good
Bought the new Coltrane CD.. half - note.. yea.. this is good..

Monday, October 31, 2005

Perfect Timing

So my motherboard came back today and I put it back in and presto, all working great again.. So happy. As soon as I was done with the pc and had it running for like 10 minutes the mailman dropped off a package from amazon.. Civ 4 has arrived! I'll be installing it tomarrow sometime..

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sorry kids, we're going to protect you from sexual predators

How sad and ironic and pathetic is this article? Essentially the kids in a catholic high school are being ordered to remove their personal myspace accounts (which they use at home) or face suspension. The reason they state is that they are protecting the children from sexual predators.

Takes a lot of balls for them to say they are protecting kids while they have priests who molest children being shuffled around every day..

NASA does a bunch right

NASA is a pretty impressive organization. They are underfunded and underappreciated, undertaking a mission that most of America really can't care less about, and yet they still accomplish amazing feats. Don't start giving me shit about the space shuttle. Is was only designed to work for a limited amount of time and the government extended the program with little more money or mandate. Even though, the shuttle is a pretty amazing piece of engineering.

Anyway, I'd like to point your attention to the Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit. These little guys were slated to land on the planet, take a few photos and then die. Well guess what.. they are still up there working great and that's pretty amazing. These things were engineered really really well and that's a good thing to know. It's good to know that people actually engineer quality products somewhere on this planet (had a good working cellphone lately?).

So, bravo to NASA and the team behind the rovers. If I could allocate my tax dollars I would give it all to you. Hey! That's an interesing idea no? Being able to allocate a portion of your tax dollars to the government agency or program of your choice.. hmn..

Monday, October 24, 2005

Geocaching Rules!

I've read about this about a year ago and thought it cool. I read about it again last week and decided to check it out some more. I'm glad I did.

Geocaching is a hobby that is practiced all around the world. The actual definition isn't really nailed down and it tends to change on occation, but essentailly it works like this:

1) You get a pair of Latitude and Longitude coordinates from someone
2) You use a handheld GPS to find your way to those coodinates
3) You search around the spot to find a cache which generally contains a log and some small items people have left there.
4) You note your visit in the log
5) You leave an item of your own
6) You collect one of the items in the cache
7) repeat, leaving the item from (6) in the next cache you find

This has been made all the more easy with the wonderful homepage/website for the hobby. Once you log in, you can search for all the caches in your area (or the world). You can keep track of them on your own personalized page and you can add comments to the cache pages when you fin (or don't find) them.

Like I said, it is constantly changing and now the site keeps track of caches that aren't fully caches, some are just logs and some are locations that you need to find. In all, it's a ton of fun.

I know this becasue I went out today on my lunchbreak to find one that was supposivly 2 blocks from my house here in the city. I took my GPS and walked to the coordinates and was rewarded with... nothing. I coudn't find the cache.. This wasn't going to be that easy.. Sure enough after about 15-20 minutes I figured out two important things: 1) altitude is relevant so even though you are in the correct place, the cache could be above or below you, 2) GPS resolution is only about 50 feet so even if you think you are at the location, you may be a tiny bit off.

Finally I determined the location and was sure the cache was nearby. I looked all over and was about to give up and then I saw something interesting. I looked over and saw where the cache was.. clever.. I ran to it and looked inside and sure enough, there was the cache.. it was super tiny!

I opened it up and unrolled the log, there were names from all over the place (farthest I saw was New Zealand). How cool that others had been in this same spot, probably looking for this very item like I was! I put my name in the log, snapped a photo with my phone camera and headed home.. All told 30 minutes.

Since I live in Philadelphia, there are a ton of caches to locate, I will find them all. I also plan on creating a couple of them.. I've got some great ideas.

In either case, I emplore all of you to check out this sport/hobby and give it a try. I bet you will have a great time!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Good man John Densmore!

How often have you heard a commercial on TV and realized it was using the music of some band that you highly respected? How big of a shock was it when the Stones sold out or The Cure (sold "pictures of you" to Hewlett Packard)? It's sickening at times. For some bands it would be ok but for serious artists (especially ones with money) it's inexcusable.

That is why I full applaud John Densmore. For those of you who don't know, Densmore is one of surviving Doors. There was Ray Manzarek (who I thought was the most amazing musician I'd ever seen), Robbie Krieger and of course Jim Morrison. In either case, Densmore is the only one of the 3 still alive that refuses to license the Doors music to Cadillac and others. Ugh.. could you imagine?

Read more in the LA Times: ("Ex-Door Lighting Their Ire" by Geoff Boucher, Oct. 5)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Happy Birthday Dizzy

Today is the birthday of the amazing, the incredible, the great Dizzy Gillespie. Find something by him and listen to it. This man is one of my 4 pillars of Jazz (Monk, Trane and Miles are the others).. He would have been 88.

Ricky wasn't going to do it.

Yesterday I got a call from a friend at like 5pm telling me to turn on the news. Rick Mariano was going to jump off of city hall. That was exciting news and pretty incredible. Of course I was totally into it.

Today after reading the news I'm convinced that the guy had no intention of suicide. Usually I'm skeptical of the news reports since politicians have such great spin doctors but in this case I think it was the local TV news weenies who just went crazy. They had no real news other than what they heard secondhand. They just made shit up.

This guy was despondent and decided to go to the observation tower to look out on the city he served. Maybe he was just saying goodbye to public service. Who knows. But this tower is closed in and if he were planning on jumping, there were so many other ways to do it.

Now they say they feared he had a gun. Come on. So what. If he were going to off himself with the gun, why not do it Bud Dwyer style? No way, don't buy it. The local TV geeks just blew the story and we all know it. Losers.

(I'm sorry to you out of towners who have no idea what I'm talking about there. Normally I would add links to reference names and events so you can play along, but I have to get started on work. Google should work for you.. )

Klicky Keyboard

When played with my first IBM PC way back when it had this awesome keyboard. It was big andh heavy and the best part was that the keys had this cool clicky feel to them. The thought of that klicky keyboard brings back great memories. I have to replace my current keyboard. This is somehting I use probably 10 hours a day and this one is getting all crappy all of a sudden. The keys are sticking and it's dirty and, well, it's just time to replace it.

So I want a klicky keyboard to replace it. It has to be USB so I can plug it into my KVM switch. And so the search begins. The wonderful internet will probably fail me in my search, but I will begin anyway. We'll see what happens...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Don't Rebuild New Orleans

New Orleans is almost completely below sea level. When I visited there a few years ago, I was amazed by this fact. I was also amazed that other than the Quarter and the surrounding area (Garden District, etc.) there wasn't much to New Orleans other than some old mansions and very low income neighborhoods. Now, as we know, most of those houses are gone or abandoned and the displaced people will not all be coming back.

I've waited a long while to post my thoughts on New Orleans. As you long time readers know, during the hurricane days I had a ton of posts. It was then that I came up with my original thought and it's been since then that I've refined my thought a bit (with some ideas from friends).

My thought is one that I'm sure has been mentioned already and that is to not rebuild most of New Orleans. I think that the city, as long as it is located where it is, would be asking for trouble if it was fully rebuilt. Another storm could and probably will occur in the future, a ton of money would be spent on a city that probably won't grow as fast as expected. Face facts, a lot of people won't be coming back.

Now, it's important to preserve certain parts of the city. I'm talking about the ones that have historical significance like the quarter. I'm talking about Tulane. Places that weren't damaged. Places that are above the water line. These places should be preserved and a supporting area should be built for them as well. New Orleans could be rebuilt purely as a tourist attraction.

I believe that all of the coastal towns outside of the city that were mostly destroyed should also be cleared off and all the residents should group together with the displaced New Orleans residents that want to come back and a new city should be built in their place. Near New Orleans but above the water line. Pool all the rebuilding money to bring in the best city planners and start from scratch.

Think of all the wonderful design ideas you could come up with if you had a blank sheet of paper to design a new city. Highways, roads and streets could be placed in ideal patterns to eliminate traffic and congestion. Commercial and Industrial zones could be ideally located. New sewers and pipes and fiber and electric could be run perfectly. Whatever.. The point is that if you had the best and the brightest minds in America design a city from the ground up, it would be an amazing place.

To build the city, you do a novel thing. Use sweat equity. All the out of work people who lost jobs and homes in New Orleans and the surrounding area could be put to work building their future home. Like new homeowners who bought their home cheap because it needed work, these people could be paid a simple wage to do labor building the city but also get a credit towards purchasing one of the homes they are building.

This is just a simple idea, but one that if more people worked on it, could be an amazing opportunity to do something simply spectacular. The key is that we agree that rebuilding New Orleans is a mistake and that we also agree that all the displaced residents want and need two things: work and a new home. I bet we just throw some money into it for a while and do a half-assed job of it like most things our government does and as usual, I think that would be pretty sad.