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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wilma is the biggest baddest ever

So close dammit!!!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9710472/

update

so the computer is still down and out.. so no photos to post.. which means 2 posts aren't coming out yet. I should take a moment to comment on the weather. Wow.. this is the best fall I've ever experienced. It's cool, but beautiful.. unbeatable! Ok.. I'll get back to you soon..

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bummer of a storm

Well, it happened last week and I forgot to let you all know about it.. Hurricane Vince did exist for a very short period before it was downgraded to a tropical storm. No damage, nothing interesting.. Damn.. my big chance at fame...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Etherbeat kicks major ass

Oh yea.. there's no censorship so far on this channel.. I've heard all kinds of nice curse words so far.. been nice to hear music as it was intended

Etherbeat kicks ass

Well, see, normally when I work I have my music coming from my non-work computer. Since I have all my CD's ripped onto a server I can listen to any and all of my music all the time on my pc. This rules. I've got like 500 CD's on tap. The problem is that on my work pc, I can't get to my local network so lately I've been with no music. That's why I was loving the XPN deal for a while. Now that they stopped playing the 885 I had to find something else. I don't know how I stumbled onto Etherbeat, but I did.

Etherbeat is a streaming radio station that plays a bunch of Jazz, lounge, world, reggae, and hip-hop. It's been 3 days now and I'm yet to hear the same ong twice and more importantly, I'm yet to hear more than 2 or 3 songs I know. Even more importantly, the music is accesable and not overbearing. Most importantly, its quality stuff.

So, in short I found a place that is playing cool new music that isn't stressing me out. It's been a real find. I highly reccomend it.. even if you think you won't like it, I bet you find that you do. Oh and it even plays on a mac so those of you goofy mac people can enjoy it as a non-i-tunes alternative...

Friday, October 14, 2005

limited edition Steadman print for Hunter S. Thompson

Well, I didn't post about this until now for a good reason. Not that I have a lot of readers, nor do I feel I wield a lot of influence in popular culture, but still I had to keep this under wraps. See, the Hunter S. Thompson foundation is/was selling commemorative prints done by Ralph Steadman. The site is here. The reason I didn't tell you is that they are in a limited edition of 150 and I didn't want it to sell out before I could get mine.

My girlfriend and I each chipped in half and we sent them a check in the mail. Sure enough, it wasn't a scam and 2 weeks later we recieved the print. It's quite impressive in real life. All the signatures at the bottom are quite cool as well.

If you are a collector and a HST fan, this is something you should grab before it's too late (we've got #89). Good luck..

P.S. Be prepared to frame the print immediatly since it comes shipped in a tube (packed very well, but curled up in a tube none the less)

the DMCA is worse than I had imagined

Apparently since XPN will be playing the top 25 albums in their entirety, the DMCA says they can't play anything on the webcast so my experience of the top 885 is pretty much over. How sad. The top 25 albums, the ones I would most likely buy if I could hear them are silent to me becasue I want to hear them on my computer instead of on a radio. Sad, Sad, Sad.. fuckers..

Puzzle Pirates

Download and check out this game Puzze Pirates. (of course it's spyware and virus free so have no fear)

They give you a free 30 day trial and there is a way to continue playing for free, but I think I may still subscribe to this online game. It's kind of an MMORPG but really not. To do anything you need to play these tetris like puzzles. It's got a cool pirate theme and it's quite addictive. I bet you'd like it as a little diversion..

My characters name is Tug if you join up and want to find me..

the DMCA is retarted

Do any of you know what this is? You should. well, it's actually too late. I know I was complaining about this a few years ago. Little good that did since the act passed. This is an act that was rammed through congress by the record industry to attempt to stop pirating of music. As usual, the stupid fucks have shot themselves in the foot.

One of the negative impacts of the act is that webcasts can only play a small number of tracks by a given artist in a 24 hour period. This is directly affecting my listening of the XPN 885 greatest albums since there are a number of times where artists on the list have multiple entries. This will further affect things when we get to the top 25 (Starting at noon today). Once they hit 25, they will be playing the albums in their entirety, so I will have the stream interrupted over and over again. This isn't happening on the radio (where I should add I could get a better quality recording than this 96k stream), just the net.

Now I'd like to argue that while listening to this webcast I've added 10 albums to my amazon wish list. Stuff I would never have heard before. Stuff I wanted to have purely becasue I had heard it here. I suspect I'm not alone in this. This is why radio (and web radio) are such amazing tools for the record industry. I ask you, by forcing XPN not to play some music, how does that help them sell records? I can't wait until these idiots go bankrupt.

For further reading, here is the post on the XPN site about it:

ONLINE LISTENERS - PLEASE NOTE: During
the playback there may be times when we must switch
from the countdown
to an alternate music stream
in order to comply with the Digital
Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)
. This act restricts the
number of songs we’re
permitted to webcast from any one artist over a specific
amount of time. When this happens you can stay on
top of the current countdown by visiting the 885
countdown page here. You can
find the full text of the Act at the U.S.
Copyright Office Web Site
. Here
is a direct link to the PDF file of the DMCA Summary Document
.

Cursing on the Radio

So, I'm listening to XPN and the 885 albums and something annoying happens. Right in the middle of Pearl Jam "Jeremy" from Ten (#34) I hear the following : "seemed a harmless little neahamragh". Like they do these days on the pussy afraid commercial radio stations they altered the "offending phrase/word" and rendered it inaudible (but I'm sure they thought it was also more musical instead of a beep sound). I say, leave the fucking music alone fuckheads! It's really odd on XPN and independant radio stations when you hear it for a few reasons. First is that songs older than 1990 are all played free and clear, I hear all kinds of curse words in the older songs. Second is that it's not illegal to use most words on the radio. I suppose playing them can cause listeners to complain, but how many complaints would you get from XPN listeners? I mean this is a public radio/liberal/adult audience. I bet the only complaints you would get would be from people like me crying that the art has been soiled and shouldn't even have been played at all. It's like going into a gallery and seeing a famous painting with a big red dot over any nudity.. I mean come on!

As usual.. i'm sorry

I have to heartedly apologize to my readers. I've been not writing much lately. Combonation of a number of factors. First is that work is really taking a lot of my time this week so I haven't been able to take a moment to write. Second is the fact that with my main computer gone, I've been way off my normal routine. I used to switch over to it and browse stuff and read news and check email and the like. Now with just my work pc running, to do anything personal is a total pain since I have to shut down my work email (outlook), drop the VPN connection, browse or do whatever, and then clean up my tracks in history and such (who wants the work people to know what I'm up to). Also I don't have any passwords stored here so in some cases I need to figure out passwords, etc. Total pain. Lastly, not having my pc has depressed me a bunch. I really have let it become a part of my life and without it, I'm kind of lost. I have to do all kinds of stuff differently..

Anyway, I have been up to stuff. I found a cool game to play, my electronics hobby is reinvigorated (I have a post all ready with photos, but I can't get my photos off my camera to this work laptop, so that will have to wait). And I'm totally enjoying the 885 greatest albums. Almost done :(

So, again, I'm sorry.. but I don't want to leave you guys with nothing to read.. That's not cool at all. So, two tiny diversions will follow this post.. And I mean really tiny since I already introduced them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What would you do for an iPod Nano?

I would pretty much do nothing except maybe holding out my hand for someone to give me one. But I suspect I'm in the minority. See the example here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Organized Religion is Muy Malo

There was an interesting article in the Oct 1 2005 issue of the LA Times by Rosa Brooks called "The Dark Side of Faith". The piece reports on a study "reported in the current issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University's Center for the Study of Religion. The study, by evolutionary scientist Gregory S. Paul, looks at the correlation between levels of 'popular religiosity' and various 'quantifiable societal health' indicators in 18 prosperous democracies, including the United States"

It's quite an interesting article. Essentially the report correlates sexual abuse, murder, teen pregnancy and STD's with the areas of the world (and America) that have the strongest followers of organized religion:

"the U.S. -- which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) -- also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."

it goes on to say :

"Murder rates? Six of the seven states with the highest 2003 homicide rates were "red" in the 2004 elections (Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina), while the deep blue Northeastern states had murder rates well below the national average. Infant mortality rates? Highest in the South and Southwest; lowest in New England. Divorce rates? Marriages break up far more in red states than in blue. Teen pregnancy rates? The same."

Very interesting indeed. Finally a report validating what most of us non-religious people believe "blindly following a religion is not a good thing". And lets not even talk about the number of wars and mass murders committed in the name of God or over some religious issue.

Pigs

http://www.nbc10.com/news/5076796/detail.html?rss=phi&psp=news

Ashley Simpson can blow me

I saw her exposed as a fraud on SNL a while back and Saturday she came back to prove herself. I am convinced (and I would bet heavily on it) that she lipsynched her first song and didn't lipsynch the second one. Even though others say otherwise I will stake my previous carreer on this. I saw it and will admit that at first I wasn't sure, but after a little bit I could see her timing was off a tiny bit in parts. Also the second guitar player seemed to be playing a part that didn't even exist in what I heard and having a drum kit sound barrier is also a bit fishy. How sad that A) SNL even let her back and B) that they let her try and fake us out again.

This girl, even if she could sing, has terrible songs and is only good for one thing and I bet she would suck at that as well..

The remote sports whistle

So, I'm watching the Flyers game and at 5.19 in the 1st period, Jon Sim scores a goal. Well, it sure looks like he does. The whistle may have blown before the puck made it over the line. They go to the reply where in slo-mo they clearly see the puck going in. The problem is that they don't know when the whistle is occurring in relation to it. They are forced to go to regular speed video and eyeball it. This is when I got my idea for the remote whistle. The ref can have a whistle that has either a small button on the side where he grabs it, or maybe a button inside that gets activated when the whistle is used. This button will then send a wireless signal up to the booth where a tiny red dot is placed on the video image. So now we've got visual evidence of when the whistle is blown. This signal can also be used in football to start and stop the clock, or used in basketball as well. Pretty simple idea huh? Odd nobody has invented it yet.

Public Enemy Number 1!

Oooh.. PE in the house.. remember the 885 albums? They are up to 209 and my favorite PE album is up "It takes a nation of millions to hold us back". I can't imagine any of the final 200 albums being bad.

Flyers are fun to watch on CSN!

I've got some things to say about last Thursdays Flyers game and also I've got a new invention I'd like to propose that maybe one of you could build and make millions with.

So, the flyers played the Devils last week. It was a great game in a lot of ways. But first I want to talk about the coverage. The game was broadcast on Comcast Sports Net (CSN) like it usually is during the regular season. Unlike the Rangers game on OLN, this broadcast was much, much better in a number of ways. First off was the image. The CSN video quality was far superior. It was brighter, more defined and in focus (not due to camera work, but probably signal processing quality). I used to be a video editor for 12 years so I know image quality. For this game CSN was doing HD and down converting it. In some cases this can end up lessening image quality but CSN did quite well and the image was excellent. This is strange since OLN is owned by Comcast and the Rangers game was in the same building so I would have assumed that they would have used the same trucks, cameras and gear. I was obviously wrong in that assumption.

Second, was the commentating. The CSN crew (Jackson, Dornhoffer and Coats) was just way better than the 2 stiffs OLN had. The excitement level was way higher, the commentating skill level and the knowledge of the game was an order of magnitude over the OLN guys.

My only complaint is that during most of the first period the main camera was a bit too tight on the action. I suspect that's due to them seeing the picture in HD with SD lines on the viewfinder which could lead to a tiny inaccuracy of the image selection, but they eventually fixed it and all was great.

Now on to the game. This won't take long… The Flyers were a bunch better than they were against the Rangers. This was mostly due to the fact that they didn't look as tired by the midpoint of the game. All of these games really don't matter much in the standings so I'm not worried at all. I would guess the first 10 or so games are primarily focused on getting in "game shape" and tuning up the lines, etc. What I have to say impressed me most was #21. He was simply amazing to watch. He is going to make Simon Gagne into the Flyers top goal scrorer. I am predicting that (assuming they stay healthy and on the same line) he will get more than 35 goals this season and if I had to pick a number I'd say 45. These 2 are going to be great together. Also awesome are all the call-ups from the Phantoms: Sim, Niittymaki, Richards, Carter.. I'm psyched..

Ok. So now on to my invention…better yet, let me put it in the next post so they are more easily searchable. Stay tuned…

Friday, October 07, 2005

the 885 greatest albums of all time

It's a hell of a concept. 88.5 WXPN let people enter this contest to win 100 CD's. All they had to do was vote on what they thought were the best albums of all time. Once all the votes were in, the list was compiled and for a week now XPN has been playing 3-4 tracks off of each abum in the list, counting down to the #1 album of all time. It's been a great listen so far for me (I listen to their web stream). O recommend you go over to wxpn.org and check it out for yourself.

By the way, I haven't looked at the whole list up to this point (you can check out the list of what's already been played), but I have to guess that OK Computer is way up there or Love Supreme. My girlfriend thinks #1 will be a Dylan record. I say maybe it will be the Beatles or Dark side of the Moon.. hard to guess.. it's been a great listen in either case.. (except for Brian Wilson : "Smile", jesus that was painful!)

I love computers

Actually that's not true. I really hate the state of computers, both hardware and software and I guess I can add a new catagory to that now : network (since the Internet is now just as much a part of our computer experience as ever.. tried to do something not connected to the net lately?). All 3 of these can be improved in so many ways.

But I'm writing to tell you that my current problem is hardware. Yesterday my computer stopped showing me video. It's killer hard to diagnose a problem with your computer when the display is out. Now, I just built this computer and the oldest part is 9 months old (motherboard) so nothing should break.

Loosing the video was a pain. After spending some serious time diagnosing that it wasn't external to the computer (I have a KVM switch and all my cables are nicely cable-tied and any diagnosis required undoing all that neatness and organization), I decided that it was most likely the video card.

Video cards today are just crazy. They have these insane processors that generate all this heat and in my belief, the fanless ones run the risk of burning out from heat. Since design goal of this pc was silence my videocard (a badass nVidia) had this crazy fanless heat sink deal that wrapped around the card (I think they call it a heat pipe or something). So, I was sure that it burned out due to poor design.

So, this is my main PC and I really depend on it for all kinds of things (paying bills, writing on this blog, my email, my calendar, contacts, etc.) so I needed to get this vid card issue addressed pronto. I took off at lunch in my car to head to my other house where I have tons of old pcs and parts stored in my basement. This is a big deal. I barely ever leave my house and I don't really enjoy it at all and when I do I don't usually use my car, but I was going to be lugging parts so I had to take the risk of coming home and spending 30 mins looking for a parking spot. Not to mention that I would need to actually put on clothes. Ugh.

So I get to the house and I'm just in such a hurry that I can't find a video card to use other than one that is really old (try an old matrox card with like maybe 8Mb of video ram). There are others in there somewhere but nothing is organized and there are just boxes of computer stuff everywhere. (Someday when I buy my final home I'll have a nice basement and I'll organize everything).

Finally I get home and climb under my desk with a flashlight to change the card. Normally I'd pull out the PC but it's all cable tied in and the wires are too short. Turns out that the card is so old that it isn't even AGP or PCI.. it's actually an ISA card.. into the trash it went.

I start to panic.. what do I do? I need my computer back! I research other cards and decide to buy a really cheap $30 card to hold me over till this one gets repaired (it is less than 4 months so it has to be under warrantee). I find a card and its going to take 7 days to ship it to me. Fuck that shit.

I then decide to just go to best buy and get a new card. I budget $150 and decide that tomarrow (today) I'll go and get it.. 2 trips in one day is just too much for me and at this point its late and finding parking when I get back will certainly be hellish.

So today I go all the way to best buy (got dressed, took the car, etc.) and got a damn card. This one was $170 with a $20 rebate. Finally I get home and lo and behold there's no rebate stuff. I call best buy and they tell me I have to come back (by the way, that took literally 35 minutes since nobody answers the damn phone there) to get the rebate materials. I ask if I can come back next week and she says it has to be today. Well, fuck that $20 I'm not getting in the car again.

Back under the desk again, I install the card and am finally feeling better since all I have to do is turn on the pc and all would be well. Well, nope... no video. It's at this point I decide it's the motherboard that is fried.

I don't know if any of you have changed a motherboard and expected windows to work again but let me tell you, the changes are slim. My best hope is to replace the motherboard with the same model. I can't find one and the ones I can find are $200 and will take a week to deliver. So, I decide to bite the bullet and send it back to Asus for repair. It has a 3 year warrantee afterall.

After an hour messing with their support website and on the phone I finally get them to issue me an RMA.

So now I sit here with a video card I have to return to best buy and a motherboard I have to pull out of my pc (not easy) and then buy a box and peanuts for and then ship it off to asus where they say they will turn it around in 10 days. Assuming I get it out to them tomarrow that puts me at GASP, 2 weeks w/o my computer. I am going to loose my mind.

So, I'm going to be out of touch for a while. But I will still write here since it's web based..

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Are ex-cons treated like normal citizens?

I was going to write about this way back when in early September, but as you know, Katrina captured my attention for a while so this got put on the back burner. But I just saw something interesting posted that really bothered me and restarted my anger about this subject. So, now I’m trying again to write about this.

Ok, here goes. In this country we have a legal system, while some say it has its problems, that is pretty good. It is fair, it is just, it is very hard to game and cheat and in general, it’s better than most others. Whether it works perfectly is up for debate, but it is what we have and as Americans we are obligated to follow along with it until it changes in some ways.

One of the main concepts in our legal system is that once a person is found guilty and served his or her time in jail or provided restitution as required by the court, they get their civil rights back and are supposed to be treated as a regular citizen again. The thought being essentially that you commit a crime, you do the time and all debts to society have been paid off. This concept doesn’t work as well as it should. One sees all the time that ex-cons can’t find jobs because companies discriminate (you’ve all seen that question on your application about being convicted of a felony). I’m sure there are many other ways the system fails ex-convicts but not being one myself, nor not knowing any, I can’t outline many other examples to you.

I will speculate that the reason for this discrimination is that we as a society don’t believe that convicts are in fact rehabilitated after their prison term. I would tend to agree with this statement which to me points to the system being flawed in some way. This post isn’t about fixing the entire system, but I want to point out that I do feel the system isn’t perfect but it’s what we have so we should follow it until it is changed. So in my above example, there should be no “Have you been convicted of a felony?” questions. If you disagree with me, then maybe you should be lobbying to change the system instead of finding ways to subvert it by discrimination.

Ok, so my thought is that the more we subvert the system, the more the system becomes irrelevant so instead of the ultimate goal of having a good system, we have a bad system with a complex and cloudy layer of subversive activities and processes on top of it. Not an ideal situation in the abstract and a horrible situation in reality for any person caught up in it.

And it is with that thought that I introduce the type of ex-con I feel is being mistreated. I know this is going to possibly offend a bunch of people but if you try and understand my point, you will see that I’m not supporting their crimes only the way they are treated after they have been rehabilitated by the system. The ex-cons I’m talking about are convicted sex offenders.

Please read the following article from time magazine (Sept 5, 2005, p72-73 by Anita Hamilton. Can be found here online for $1.99). I’ve seen similar stuff in the news over the years and haven’t said anything but it’s time to now. Especially in light of local events like this one.

I completely think that rape and pedophilia are crimes and I think that people who have been convicted of these crimes should be punished. But I differ with people in that I think that these people have reasons why they committed their crimes that are far more complex than being simply born evil. I believe these people need therapy more than prison and I believe these people in most cases can be rehabilitated. The system isn’t perfect and it needs to be changed but that doesn’t mean that we should ostracize these people and not let them live anywhere. In most cases its been shown that repeat sex-offender rates are significantly lower than non sex-offenders so perhaps the system is actually working for them (I would imagine that is because they do, in most cases, receive some therapy). Also the definition of sex-offender is very vague in American society. Consensual statutory rape for example or public exposure like Pee Wee playing with himself in the X-Rated skin theatre.. Are these people to be put in cages and locked away for their entire lives? Do we really have much to fear from them?

I’ve also written in the past how I think it’s unfair to entrap people and ruin their lives over the internet for sex “crimes”. In most cases, these are people who have found safe ways to act out their fantasies and they are stalked and trapped by an overzealous police who can care less bout intent and would rather make headlines by taking down some upstanding citizen.

In either case, I don’t think it’s fair to treat people who In The Eyes of The Law have paid their price for their offenses. In my mind, the system says that they should be treated as regular citizens and not ostracized with Scarlett Letters across their chests. Read the Time magazine article and see if you really should be buying into the hype of the big bad sex-offender and we really should be treating these people as poorly as we do. Did you know that “80% of child-sex-abuse victims know their attackers”? That means only one thing “they’re usually relatives or friends, not schoolyard stalkers” Should we be treating these people like this?

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Before you write me or comment on this, I totally agree that the system has to be changed. Not only for sex-offenders but for drug addicts as well. These are medical problems and should be handled in a different way. I totally agree that dropping a person into prison with medical problems is hardly a solution if you want to rehabilitate them. We need to make the system better, but we also can’t let the system get any worse. Please, you may not agree with me, but at least see that I’ve got an opinion on something and I’m actually thinking and I actually want to make the world better. That’s more than most people in this country.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

tv tv tv

3 shows you should check out..

1) "Arrested Development" simply perfect.. soon will be canceled by fox since America is too dense to get it or maybe it's too hard to follow all the innuendos and double entendras (maybe I should learn how to spell that)

2) "How I met your Mother" : actually a very good sitcom. Doogie Howser is pretty funny even if he sports a new catch phrase every week

3) "Extras" : I just saw one but it may turn out to be a great show.. It's tough since the accents are pretty serious but Ricky Gervais is simply perfect in his subtle comic role

Storm Names

For thos of you interested in seeing if there will be a storm named after you, here is the official set of lists by NOAA..

Monday, October 03, 2005

Flyers

Before its too late I hae to say that I coudn't be more excited that the NHL is back and that the Flyers have been able to put together such an exciting team. I just wish I could get some tickets. I miss having my 10 game mini season package..

Surreal Life season 5

Yea, I don't know if any of you watched Surreal Life 5 this season. All I can say is that if you dind't, you missed some A+ entertainment. I hate Omorosa Stallworth (or whatever her name is). I don't really hate her, I am actually more sad at how insane and delusional she is. Watching her interact with Janice Dickinson, particularly in the Knife Incident episodes was probablythe best tv I've seen in quite some time. I really, truely urge you all to rent this on DVD when it comes out. You will not be dissapointed.

I remember saying that SL 4 was great, but this is like 10x better than that was. In all, I have to say that the producers of that show have their shit together..

Next seasons cast seems interesting but not as explosive.. We'll just have to see.

Reverse the Curse

I’m a fairly logical guy and I pretty much don’t have any superstitions but I do believe that there are lots of things that I don’t understand about the universe and how it works and with that said I have to say that I firmly believe that events can happen that most people would say were completely coincidental but actually had some sort of metaphysical connection. And I’m about to tell you the story of one of them.

I’ve been an Eagles fan since I first figured out football was cool and that was the year Randall Cunningham was a 3rd down quarterback for Ron Jawarski. I’ve seen the team play well and I’ve seen them play like crap. I’ve heard all the curses and all the reasons why we couldn’t win the super bowl. I’ve seen people do all kinds of crazy stuff so their team could win. I was one on the ones who threw snowballs at Santa. I’ve seen almost every home game in person. In short, I’ve been through the war and deserve a reward.

I thought last year I’d finally get it. We had made it to the Super Bowl and we were going to win it. I was never so convinced of a sporting certainty like I was about this. The team was just too focused and skilled and calm and cool and ready. If you watch the game now with a non-bandwagon perspective you will see that the game was totally winnable. But we didn’t win. Something went horribly wrong. This post is my way of saying I’m sorry but I’m convinced that I had something to do with it.

See, I believe that I did something that screwed up the destiny of the 2005 Eagles. I’m not sure if I’ve said it here before but I do believe that any person can change history by just believing in something. That a single person can move a mountain if they really wanted to. That, in short, we are all all-powerful gods changing reality at every single moment without even knowing it. As sports fans I think that we collectively compete with the opposing fans in a sub-conscious way.

So, you are going to argue that if that were the case, the Eagles will surely have won since Boston fans could care less about their team while Philly fans are insanely devoted space monkey lemming drones in our dedication to our team. This would be true, but Philly fans also are competing with their belief that we are cursed and will never win the big one. There are obviously other factors involved, but I’m getting away from the point.

I think that we had it all won until I bought my Jevon Kerse Jersey. See, I’m not a jersey person but I was actually going to the super bowl I needed to show my colors didn’t I? Add that to the fact that my girlfriend and her friends had a tradition where they wore their jerseys for every game. Like crazy people. They had a whole ceremony and timing to the ritual. My girlfriend essentially demanded I follow suit for the SB.



The main problem was that I didn’t want a Kerse Jersey and even though I was forced to buy it, I didn’t even want this particular one, it was XXL and I was swimming in it. See, I needed a jersey. I knew that I wanted a defensive one. I wanted a Trotter jersey or a Dawkins or even Dahani Jones. It’s just that near the SB, the only 3 jerseys I could get were #81 and #5 since they had overstocked them and Kerse #93 since nobody really wanted it. I settled for the Kerse jersey.

Now, I like Jevon Kerse. I think he is a good addition to our team. Not a great one, but certainly good enough. It’s just that the guy confused me a bit. There was some odd energy associated with him. Mostly I think I was feeling odd when all I heard about him in the days leading up to the game was “Reverse the Kerse”. Now, that sounds catchy enough but if you think about it, it makes no sense at all. Why would someone have this as their slogan? Like, is he cursed? Were the Eagles cursed and he was the cure? Just strange.

Whatever, I needed a jersey and I wasn’t superstitious so I bought it and took it along with me to the game. Here is where things get odd. As I got off the plane (about 24 hours after I bought the jersey) I started to have doubts that the Eagles were going to win. This was odd since previously I was thouuroughly convinced we were going to win, like to my core.. Now I was having doubts.. I put them out of my mind.. surely I was just being paranoid as we got closer to the game.

Well, game came and I wore the jersey and we lost. The jersey went into the closet. Flash to this season. Game one, we were so pumped up. Of course we wore our jerseys as we sat in front of the tv. She with her trusty Owens jersey and me with my Kerse crap. We lost. Game two and we were on a trip so we watched the game on a tiny portable tv in the car. We won. Game three was last week when I was in Austin. Here is what happened.

I was in Austin at a sports bar watching the game get ready to start and my gf calls me. She can’t find her TO jersey. She asks if she can wear mine. She needs to have a jersey on to watch. Sure I say, enjoy it. We loose our kicker on the kickoff, we play like shit and are basically going to loose the damn game by halftime. It is at this point that I see the connection between the wins and losses and the jersey. I discuss it with people at the sports bar and they basically beg me to call her and tell her to remove it. Of course I do. As you may or may not know, we win the game. I promise myself that when I get home the jersey will be burned and immedialtely feel at ease. Mind you, Kerse at this point has not had a sack nor been a contribution to any game (including the Super Bowl).

I actually began to think about buring the jersey and I begin to believe that when I do, JK will get a sack and I will in fact be the one that will “reverse the curse” for the teams horrible start. I get home and of course I forget to actually burn the jersey. It sits on my desk.

Which takes us to yesterdays game. The first quarter is basically the worst I’ve ever seen a football team play. Most of the second is just as bad. It is in desperation that I remember the jersey on my desk. As soon as I do a thought pops into my head “Burn it and he will get a sack and things will be better”. I blow it off and sit back and watch the game some more. The same thought pops in my mind again like a voice “burn the talisman and he will get a sack”. I have no idea what a talisman is but I’m suddenly convinced that the jersey is some cosmic bad kharma item that must be destroyed immediately. As if I’m being teased by the universe, as I sit back and contemplate this thought, we recover a fumble and score a touchdown.

It’s decided, the jersey will now die. Halftime comes and I run upstairs and get the evil thing. I cut it into pieces and test burn some in the fireplace. It won’t burn.. it just sits there and resists. Finally a piece catches and the nylon finally begins to melt. It’s an ugly scene as I put more pieces into the fireplace. It smells terrible, it fills the house with smoke (even with the flume open) and crackles and drips green and black goo onto the bricks below. I get a piece on my fingertip and it refuses to go out or stop burning my skin. (I now have a big white callus blister type deal on my finger).

Anyway, after about 20 minutes the jersey is a pile of plasic goo. It has ruined the fireplace and my finger is horribly burned and I’m sitting there with a huge grin on my face. All will be well, its like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. My girlfriend thinks I’m insane.

The game begins again and sure enough who gets a sack? Yup. I look over at my girlfriend and tell her “Guess what. I just saved the Eagles season”. And I totally believe what I’m saying. I know that I’ve made a difference. Oh yea, we score 38 unanswered points and win the game. Yea.. Feel free to thank me now..

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Blog Spam

Getting a lot of blog spam lately which is kind of good since it means my blog is getting more popular.. But obviously bad since I have to police it. I've changed the way comments work, you now have to do a word read to post.. not much of an inconvenience and since most of you don't post, it seems no one will notice either...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I'm not the only one!

My friends think I'm crazy since I've been preaching that we should have a metric time system and a metric calendar. The current system of the calendar is simply silly to me. It was originally invented back when we thought the earth revolved around the sun and then later adapted in the roman days into what we have now. Some months simply added and named for the Ceasers at the time (It's way more complex, but I'm in a hurry this morning).

Anyway, I can't stand our calendar. To me, the system is completly orthangonal to the way I think (and all apparent logic). We have leap years and we have months that don't always have the same number of days each year. We have months that all have different numbers of days. We have days that never seem to line up so from year to year we have holidays that occur seemingly without precision (Second Thursday of the Month.. come on!)

I want a metric calendar with some fixed number of metric days each month. Put the main holiday on day one of every month and a sub holiday in the middle of the month on some day. Standardize the clocks across all the time zones and then we finally have a logical, orderly way to tell time, communicate globally, and more importantly, we don't have to replace our calendars every year. Think of the beauty of it!

So, anyway, as I was saying, I can sit at a party and start talking about this and by magic I can make everyone dissapear (or fall asleep). I can go on for hours about this (it's more complex than I'm letting you know right now.. I'm actually working on a position paper on it, but who knows when it will ever be done (I have 1 paragraph so far)). Ahh, so as I was saying, I'm not the only one.. See here for some like minded logical peoples opionion!

and adapted back when they thought the earth revol