Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fuck Yea.. we're making progress

Ok. First off, a lot my new readers haven't read this post. It's a repost of something I wrote in 2004 and it is still totally true today. We have to look at our voting system and try and fix it.

A few months ago I wrote this post. And that is the one I'm going to talk about today. There is a movement that I heartedly support and I think you should as well. It's about a really cool legislative hack that will let the states get rid of the electoral college (which many scholars agree is just a bad way to elect a president).

The reason I write about it today is that the bill just passed in California! The same bill has passed in Colorado and is on the way to being passed in other states as well. I have written my Legislators in Pennsylvania and I ask all of you to read up on the "National Popular Election of the President" movement and if you agree with it, write your legislators as well.

Our real part of the bargain

In Above Average Jane today, she has a post titled "Our Part of the Bargain". Here is my take on the Hoeffel comment in it:

While I greatly respect Joe Hoeffel I think his response was too idealistic. It is partially true however. There is no doubt that staying informed is an important part of being a citizen in America. But I think that he’s overlooking the fact that most Americans do not exercise their actual right to vote. We in America have simply stopped voting. Look at the turnout results for any election in the past 10 years. They are clearly pitiful. Nobody votes anymore. But yet, we all seem to be able to complain.

I believe that the biggest problem in America today is not the Republican agenda, it’s that by not voting, we the people have let that agenda become reality. When turnouts are as low as they are, the Democratic and Republican parties have a much easier time getting their candidates elected. Tactics like vote suppression, targeted mail and phone calls, single issue pandering are all infinitely more effective when they are practiced on small groups. Lately the Democrats have been floundering, but there is no doubt that they will ride the Republican failures into office and as a Democrat, I kind of fear that as well. The Democratic agenda will be revenge. How much actual good government will occur then?

We the people need to assert ourselves. We need to elect candidates that actually care about their constituencies. We need to elect candidates that want to work with others and make progress in government. As far as I’m concerned, these candidates can come from any party as long as they represent a core set of values and beliefs that overlap my own. If everyone in America were to vote, I can’t imagine that our government would reflect the will of the people instead of the special interests.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

OOh.. I'm on a roll now

This is a great little piece about the wonderfully incompetant BWH.. What makes it priceless is the photo at the bottom of the 'advisors'..

The Bush administration: It's not always wrong. It's not always dishonest. But it is always incompetent.

Oh Yea.. I forgot

You know.. I totally forgot to rant like a crazy person today about this little earthquake that occured in Indonesia. Yea, you may not have heard because the MSM is feeding you more important stories like the DC sniper trial, the Jimmy Hoffa search, and the Jolie-Pitt baby.

Yea, you many not have noticed that like 5000 people are dead from this little occurance. Let me put that in pierspective, that's almost 2 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq, it's more than 50% more fatalities than in 9/11, and more than 60% more than in Katrina.

So I ask you this, what makes an Indonesian life any less newsworthy or important?

The War on Terror

Linking to good posts is kind of a cop out, I know, but I'm not inspired today.. well, that's not true at all, I've got all these ideas but I can't focus on one and even if I could I just don't feel like writing..

Anyway, Matt Stoller posting on MyDD.com has a perfect take on what the "War on Terror" is and I suggest you give it a read:

During this so-called war on terror, we haven't caught Osaba bin Laden. The number of terrorist incidents has dramatically increased since 2001. Global warming and pandemics are threatening our very way of life, fiscal imbalances threaten to wreck the global economy, the government is cooking the economic books, and you can top that off with a severe and looming energy crisis for good measure. Oh, and the Constitution has been eviscerated, we went to war based on lies without politicla consequences, and the military is being ruined.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why are we still in favor of this war again?

Wow. So I came across this flash presentation that makes the case for GWB and his people being complete evil fuckwads in going to war looking for WMD's, etc. As I watched I was like.."Yup! More people need to see this so they can remember how we got into this war. This is so perfect a piece. If more people saw this, maybe it would crystalize this debacle". I watch the whole thing and am amazed, literally blown away, to see that it was made before the 2004 election.

Fuck, now it all comes into view. I seemed to have supressed it, but wow! I can't believe we actually elected this guy again when we did. Wow! How amazing a propaganda machine do they have there in the BWH? And it makes me even more mad that the Democrats in congress and the senate have just let this all happen. And they did you know. Just becasue they are in the minority doesn't mean they have no power, no ability to sway the public, to fight the good fight. Nope, they just sat back and waited it all out. Much like they still are doing today.

oh yea, the flash piece can be found here.

Repost

You know, it started out as comment on a blog and ended up being pretty insightful. So I'm posting it here for you all to enjoy. (Well, it was my comment and this is my blog).

I was reading a post on the smedley log and decided to comment on it and the comment grew to be pretty much a real synopsis of what I'm trying to do here on this blog. If I had tried to write a mission statement on my own, I'd have had no luck. But sure enough , out this comment came. It's amazing how clear things get when you aren't trying isn't it?

So here is (as a comment to this post) the purpose of the Duh! Blog:

Of course you are 100% correct. You can easily see this evidenced in the fact that nobody votes anymore, that there is little media focus on real current events, that there is no budding revoultion occuring. We the people who care are certainly in the minority.

I believe that that's the way we want it. That the actual average human being in America is so spoiled that they don't need to care about these things. That is a result of our incredible prosperity in America.

If you read a book like "Island" by Huxley you see this utopian society that while incredible, will never happen in the large here in America and probably across the human race. Humans have conquered the real visilbe treats to their existance, they (and I mean all humans) can now get food and make shelter. In short, we can survive and there is some flaw to us that makes that ok. We have no overall need to acheive more as a race. We are inherantly self centered and lazy.

So, as I'm coming to believe, it is up to us, the small majority to lead the sheep to a better world. We can't count on them to help us. We need to drag them into what should be the 21st century by oursleves.

It frusterates me as well. On my blog I still complain and most of those complaints are not against the establishment. They are agasint the lazy sheeplike public. I feel helpless to make change in the world. But I think that my writing isn't for those masses, it's for others like you and others like me. I think it's a way to say "we've got to do something since the rest of America (and in the future, the world) doesn't (and won't) do it themselves!"

Friday, May 26, 2006

This really has to stop soon

Once again we see in the news how a student is being persecuted for expressing himself on the web. In this case, a student posted thoughts about how he was being bullied by the school into removing posts from his blog that he wrote on his own time at home.

I suppose we're just going to have things like this happening for a few years until everyone comes to grip with technology and how it affects our world. No wait, that's bullshit and I know it. The environment that our government has fostered, one where nobody has any civil liberties and our rights are regularly trampled upon "for our own good" is now trickling down to non-governmental authority figures. The school district is even using Bush rhetoric and fear mongering tactics.. sexual predators.. come on now, do I really have to spend the time outlining why that is a lame argument?

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is back!

I really liked the show "It's always sunny in Philadelphia" when it first appeared on FX. Sadly FX cancelled it (as I predicted). It seems though, that the show isn't totally dead and we may see it on Fox next month, so tune in!

I don't get it

So in Indiana reciently, a school that has let one of its students dress in womens clothes all year decides for his prom that he can't attend. Why? Becasue he's wearing womens clothes and that apparently violates the dress code for the prom. Now I ask you, if he was wearing a formal dress (which he was), what was he doing wrong?

I suppose if the dress code was written in a certain way (ie. men should wear tuxes and women formal dresses) they could enforce it to the letter, but why do it at all for this kid? All year they let him wear a dress, why discrimiate him for the prom? Seems to be that they are discriminating against him on purpose and that just doesn't seem fair to me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why do I have to pay for others stupidity?

Look.. If you don't know that running executables you download off the net could be dangerous then you really shouldn't be using a computer. That's what I have to say. Why am I bringing this up? Becasue fucking Windows won't leave me alone!

I've argued before that there should be more than one Windows. One version should be for regular computer users and the other for the rest of them. The first would have no inane security helper training wheels or stupid animations or general overhead and the latter would be a dummed down version of what I'm using now that is simple and easy to use for the 99% of the computer owners in America.

Somewhere along the way, at some point I can't remember, Windows updated itself into a big fucking baby, looking over my shoulder at every possible second. "Are you sure you want to download that file? It could be dangerous!!!!!", "Are you sure you want to open that file? It could be harmfull to your computer!!!", "You haven't checked for viruses lately..." blah, blah, blah.. leave me alone you fuck!

You know, you can't turn it off, no matter what you do. Today I really tried. Finally, after who knows how long I decided to devote some of my day to making windows leave me alone. I'm a busy guy and I really don't have the time to give, but I can't take it anymore. I got this dialog after trying to run an update I'd just downloaded.



Yes, it was a common dialog. It comes up all the time, with executables, videos, music files.. whatever I download gets this annoying fuck of a message. You'd think that the dialog I got when I tried to download the file in the first place would have been enough:



But nope.. Windows just wanted to make sure, this time with a red shield inststead of the yellow one.. Thanks for looking out for me. See where they have that hyperlink at the bottom that says "How can I decide what software to run?"? Yea.. I click on that and nothing at all happens. So I head into internet options and try to turn it off. I find a few settings that look promising and begin to browse. Now guess what? Every single page I open or browse to I get this nice security warning at the top. Complete with a stange beep sound, in case I don't see the annoying fucking thing. You know how to turn it off? You can't sorry.



So I give up for the day. I close the browser and do something else. A few minutes later I open it again and now it won't let me go to my homepage without a warning.. How considerate!



So what am I to do? Nothing. Microsoft has beaten me once again. Once again, and this is far from the first time, something is working on my computer in a way that I don't want, and I am helpless to change it if I want to run Windows. I would probably say something here like "how could you all let Windows become the dominant OS?" but that would be like asking how everyone elected George Bush for a second term.

And people wonder why I don't like Republicans

So, it seems that a representative from my state has decided to try and ban in schools and public libraries all websites that contain blogs, chat sites and forums.

First off, the bill is crazy broad and if it passes as is, that would just be an insane act of government. But if it did, it could mean that the bill (which is being sold as a 'protect the kids' bill) could actually have ulterior motives.

In either case, my god.. how clueless. What a fricken waste of time. Do they actually think that they can stop this movement? Kids will find ways to get around the filters, and other websites will pop up that are subtley different. It's like the war on drugs, a total waste of time and money just to make us feel like we are doing something when nothing really can be done to stop people from getting what they want. Will they then filter text messaging on cell phones?

Stupid..

Tommy is tougher than you think

Ok.. enough of the serious posting.. I think you all should know that Tommy Hilfiger is a pretty tough guy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Diebold is in the news again...

hmn.. I wonder why Diebold is in the news again. Could it be that they have done more poor software engineering? Nah.. couldn't be could it? Why yes.. yes it is. Apparently a security vulnerablilty has been found that will give complete access to the machines with little or no effort. Boy, I'm glad we don't have those machines in Pennsylvania. Oh wait.. we do... hmn... Fuckers..

It's not just D's and R's

There's no doubt that I've got problems with our political landscape these days. Our government has eroded our civil liberties, has ruined our reputation abroad, has trashed our economy and has basically wreaked havoc since September 11th. When I sit back and think about it, I realize that the Bush White House is not to blame at all. In fact they should be applauded for the incredible stuff they have been able to pull off. They are evil, yes, but they are also quite intelligent. They have worked the system in ways that nobody has ever imagined. They have used the system to do whatever they have wanted. Their power stems mostly from the Republican majority that has been building in the congress and in the judicial branch. The concept of checks and balances has had no effect and that is due to the Republican Party doing so well electing people.

See, checks and balances can work, but we need to have a larger check in place. We need a strong Democratic Party in place to balance the agenda, to balance the direction. We don't have that right now. The Democratic party is a management disaster, it is stuck in the 70's and 80's and it has never tried to grow up like the GOP has.

I'm not a fan of the two party system. Even if it was working perfectly, I think that it is a recipe for inaction. Essentially you have two groups of people who are by their very nature at odds on every issue possible. That means that every single bill, every single legal challenge, is approached as a battle to be won for one side or another. The theory is that if each party is equally strong, the results will be somewhere in the middle, a perfect compromise. The reality is that the parties are never equally balanced in power and even if they were, having a compromise all the time is hardly the way to change the world. Sometimes, there really is a right way to do something and by having these two opposed parties, working against each other instead of collectively for the greater good, we are cheated out of what is best for ourselves.

Think for a moment how much would get accomplished, think how much good could be done if the two parties set aside the battle of party politics for a moment and tried to work collectively for the countries best interest.

Can we get to that place? Can we reach this utopian government? I think we can if we follow a simple two step plan. First, get the Democratic Party up to speed and balance out the power in federal government and second, overlay on top of the two party system a third party, a common set of beliefs and values that each party member can agree on no matter what side of the aisle or bench they are on.

The first point, I won't talk about much and the reason is that I would simply be re-iterating what has been said already so incredibly well by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga in their book "Crashing the Gate". If you are a progressive, or a Democrat you should buy this book. This is the user manual for the new Democratic Party. The book outlines what the problems are with the Democratic Party and how we can fix them. It is an amazing read. I can't say enough about this book. Read it and then pass it on to, or buy it for, your friends.

The second point is really why I'm writing today. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I'm a party member who is only there because overall I believe in that party more than the other. In my case I don't believe in overreaching government, I don't believe in unions the way they are right now, I believe wholeheartedly in the free market, I believe that we should be allowed to bear arms, I overwhelmingly believe that religion has no place in government in any capacity, I believe in a woman's right to choose, I believe in stem cells, I believe in evolution (mostly). So what party should I be in? My beliefs and values don't put me in either party. And I'm not really in the middle between them either. Is my situation uncommon? I bet it isn't.

But I'm a Democrat, and let me tell you that when I hear someone is a Republican I immediately loose respect for them. How is that possible? Am I just stereotyping? I don't think so. Being a member of either party is a choice that goes beyond core beliefs in the party positions. Or maybe, in my case at least, it is an absolute hatred for one particular party position that makes all the others pale in importance. Who knows? My point is, to govern well, we really don't need to care.

I've been intrigued by the Concord Party lately. This is a small group (growing, join now!) of really smart people from all ends of the political spectrum who have this plan to form a third party. A party where issues are debated intelligently and party platforms are not set in stone from the get go. Go check out their mission statement, I’ll wait.

The Concord party is in its infancy and it may never take the form that it aspires to. But it does show us that there are people (and I think there are a lot of them) who want to make government better and who see that it's not going to happen with the traditional Democratic and Republican battle.

My plan, and the plan I will propose to the Concords, and really fight for is that we don't need to be a third party. We can be something different. We can be a 'party' on top of the current two party system. We can be the common ground that is needed between the D's and R's. So a Democratic US Senator can sit in a room and hash out a bill with a Republican Senator as agreeing Concords instead of traditional party enemies. The Concord party can have, perhaps, a contract of sorts that leaders must follow to remain members. A contract of values like integrity, respect for differing opinions, etc. Once politicians see that their enemies actually have some common goals, think of what can be accomplished.

Obviously there needs to be much discussion on this issue. I'm going to start the discussion on the Concord forums and who knows where it will go. I would really appreciate it if all of you joined up in the discussion. We really need to get some changes happening in government. And I don’t think that if the Democrats come into power, anything other than 4-8 years of revenge will occur. We’ve more important things to do with our country.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Am I the idiot?

So, I read a lot of RSS feeds. I use bloglines like any self-respecting net citizen should and I've got it filled with blogs and news feeds. Two of my feeds are local, the Daily News Feed and (because it actually has a lot of local stories and updates quite a bit), the NBC10 feed. On the two local news feeds for the past few days I've seen literally 50% of the titles contain the name Barbaro. I don't know who Barboro is so I naturally ignore them. Evidently the guy is sick or something..

Finally I decide on a whim to check one of the feeds titled "Read & Send Barbaro Get Well Messages". Obviously if you were to click on it you would see where I got a bit surprised (and pissed off). Barbaro is a horse that got hurt.

Look. I love animals probably more than most, but to have an injured horse dominate the local news scene is simply insane. Why isn't there a story about some local protest against the Iraq war? Why isn't there a story about the local response to the wiretapping? Why isn't there a story about anything of any importance to our lives?

I'm wrong aren't I? I should think that this story should be the top story for not one, not two, but 3 days and counting. Shouldn't I? I really am the idiot. I must be. Nobody else seems to be complaining with me.

Wait.. Breaking news. In the middle of writing this I decided to do a Technorati search on the Barbaro deal. There were a lot of general news pieces, one insane one that just proves my point entirely, and a bunch of other crap.. But there in the middle of them all were two kindred spirits. So together we can be the 3 idiots. Yay.. Maybe we'll form a club!

Why the TV networks just don't get it

See. Here's what I'm talking about. People just have to stop and think about what they are doing once and a while and realize that a lot of it is outdated. No matter how many web portals or video on demand web deals the major tv networks put up, they still will sound like idiot dinosours when their to people say stuff like this:

"We are in the hit business," explains 20th Century Fox's Sharp. "You've got to make sure that once in a while you make a hit, otherwise you can actually go out of business in a couple of years."

That was from a Wired News article about tv pilots. According to the article, there are on average 100 pilots produced a year and of them, we the public get to see maybe 30% make it to the air. And we all know that of those, only a small few actually last more than a few episodes.

Here's a stupid question. Why not post the pilots that don't broadcast on the web somewhere? Why not create a whole alternate network of these long tail shows and see what catches on. How much would that cost? Relatively nothing. Give these producers a shot to grow an audience online.

The same goes for shows that critics and medium audiences love that don't catch on with the rest of the sheep in this country. (Sons and Daughters, Arrested Development, Enterprise, etc.). Move them to the web or direct DVD distribution. You can't tell me that they can't make a profit.

Privacy is a right we ALL should fight for!

I've heard so much stuff about this wiretapping/privacy issue lately and most of it has really pissed me off because a lot of people don't seem to care about it. I've been trying to find a way to express what I feel about this issue. I've been trying to think of a good way to tell people that even if you have nothing to hide, letting the govt. erode our privacy is a really bad thing and letting it happen is just plain un-patriotic. I just came across an essay in Wired News that says it better than I could ever have. It's one page, please go read it.

Highlight:

How many of us have paused during conversation in the past four-and-a-half years, suddenly aware that we might be eavesdropped on? Probably it was a phone conversation, although maybe it was an e-mail or instant-message exchange or a conversation in a public place. Maybe the topic was terrorism, or politics, or Islam. We stop suddenly, momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context, then we laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our words are subtly altered.

This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And it's our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Steven Starr Coverup? Hmn?

So I was reading Philly Mag last week and I saw a piece about restaurant cleanliness. Apparently although the city does health inspections of restaurants, there is really no way for the public to get the findings of those inspections. So, Philly magazine decided to get the reports and then post them on their website. Of course I went online to find the reports but had no luck. They weren’t there. Apparently the report had a bunch of bad news about Steven Starr restaurants, some of my favorite ones too! If you look at this piece, you will see that SS wasn’t too happy about the report and it was taken down almost immediately (note that he is one of the magazines biggest supporters, and is also a large part of the city’s economy). Apparently (and here is where I wonder) the report was erroneous and one of the columns was in the wrong place. When corrected, the columns vindicated Steven Starr and then apparently put the blame on Striped Bass, but oh wait, that was another mistake.. the real culprit with the rat infestation was some tiny day care center. Again I wonder..

Friday, May 19, 2006

Small Investors have no shot

We really don't. All we can do is buy shares of companies that are solid and have good fundimentals, or are a great deal. I've said it before and I stand by it with all my heart. Right now, Sirius stock is an amazing buy. It was at 6, it was at 5 and now that it's below 4 you would be an idiot not to buy some. Most investors are amazed that every day, with no bad news, analist downgrades or insider trading, the stock continues to decline. Most believe that it is all due to the huge hedge funds shorting Sirus stock so they can make insane long term gains. That should tell you that in todays market, as a small investor, you are so out of the loop, you should just give up trying to time the market. You can't. Oh.. and I just bought another 150 shares so now I've got 1000. Some day when Sirius is as big as HBO I'll be laughing my way to the bank.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wow

So, here is an interesting tidbit. Apparently not only did the White House know about a big al-Qaeda attack pre 9/11 (which we knew already) but Judith Miller at the New york Times did as well! Wow, this is amazing stuff.. (reported by my man Will Bunch)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sons and Daughters

Bummer, "Sons and Daughters" got cancelled. This, for me was one of the standout shows to come out last season. Like "Significant Others" before it, it was an amazing show by a guy named Fred Goss. My gf and I knew it was a gonner though. It was just too different and difficult for the average American viewer to grasp. We knew it was gone midway through episode one. Every week we were happily surprised to see it on the Tivo. It's sad America didn't like it. Not becasuse it's gone now, but becasue of what it says about America. Fred has a myspace account and a blog if you are interested.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Vote Vote Vote

If you complain about the govt. in any way, shape or form and do not vote today I have no respect for you. The only way to change things in government is to vote. Yesterday I complained about the media slacking off. Today I finally found a useful resource in the Inquirer (online). It's a voters guide. That combined with the hallwatch polling place locator should be all you need.. Too bad I just found them in the last few days..

Vote and if you can, tell your friends and co-workers to as well!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

I wonder

I wonder what became of the two arrested girls from last year. Are they still in jail? After their treatment by our government I wonder if they would consider really becoming suicide bombers. I wonder how many others have been falsely arrested and imprisoned. I wonder why almost nobody seems to care.

Election Day

Well, tomorrow is election day. How many of you knew that? I almost forgot myself and I actually care. Our media, and I'm talking TV, newspapers, radio (and not just news) does a very, very poor job of promiting the fact that we can vote tomorrow.

Now, as you know as a primary with district seats, where you live and your party will determine who your choices are. I dare you to find a good city website that will give you a listing of the candidates, or a sample ballot for your actual polling place, or better yet a city website that will tell you where your polling place is!

I've looked. Comittee of Seventy was my best guess and they failed me. The city website? Do any of you know what the address is? phila.gov? nope.. careful.. it's actually www.phila.gov.. how hard to do some DNS work and get that working right? Doesn't matter.. if you get there, there's nothing obvious about the upcoming election.

There's nothing, and that's a shame. I think they want it that way so they can stay in power. So it's up to us to bust our buts and do research on who is actually running and then find out what we can about them all by our lonesomes.. shameful!!!

Never talk to the Police without a lawyer

Let me tell you a short story. This story is true and I can imagine all too common in America. It has a very simple moral: Never talk to the Police without a lawyer. So, it is May in Jacksonville at around 7:30AM. A white tourist couple is heading back to their room from breakfast when they are accosted by a tall black man with a gun. He takes the womans purse, shoots her and then runs away. The police arrive, the woman is sadly dead and the husband gives a description of the assailant. The description is something like : black, male, shorts, hat, with a gun, 20-30 years old.

The description goes out on the radio and an hour and a half later a patrolman pulls up to a first black male he sees on the street. A 15 year old kid heading to pick up a job application. He asks the kid if he can question him, puts him in the car and drives him to the crime site. At the motel the husband decides he is the killer (even though his description, other than black male, isn't the same). The kid is taken to the station for questioning where they interrogate him for over 6 hours with no lawyer. Eventually they bring in another interrogator who after spending some more time with him, brings the kid out to the woods near the station and proceeds to threaten to kill him, beats him and finally gets him to sign a confession.

Would you like to know how this story turns out? I bet you would. This is the story of Brenton Butler and it's told in the Oscar Winning documentary "Murder on a Sunday Morning" by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. You may remember him as the maker of the amazing documentary I reccomended here and here "The Staircase".

My central argument here is one that most people don't seem to get. If you are ever arrested, and especially if you are innocent, don't say a word to the police until you have a lawyer. People always seem to think "Well, I'm innocent, I've nothing to hide" but guess what, when the police (or law enforcement) want to get something out of you they will take advantage of every possible trick they can think of. I have heard first hand from law enforcement officers some of the dirty tricks they use on people who really don't know any better. This film illustrates just one situation where your whole life can change in one simple instance of being in the right place at the wrong time.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The old Spam Debate

I've been on the net for a loooooong time. I actaully remember when the web didn't exist at all (anyone remember Gopher?). Anyway, I've seen the Spam war from the front lines from the time it first started. I remember getting one or two spams and spending the time tracking down the senders and mailing their ISP or mailhost with my complaints. I remember it getting to be too much work and then using the spampcop service every day. I remember it all. It pretty much sucked.

But you know what? I got every email sent to me and that was a good thing. Today I'm not so sure that's the case in both directions. I don't think I get all that is mailed to me and I don't think all I mail gets through to its recipients. And that is a very bad thing.

The problem is the indiscriminant use of Spam Filters by ISPs and false positives. When I send email it goes over my Comcast connection, to my mail host (1and1) and then off to who knows where. I've got filtering turned off at 1and1 but who knows if Comcast is looking at my email or if 1and1 is doing any bulk domain blacklisting or if someone else along the chain is.

Over the past year or so I've seen two things happen. First is that the Spam to my mailbox (and I have 5 email accounts) has dropped to almost nil. Second is that 3-4 of every 100 emails I send don't get to their recipiants. Who knows how many I don't get.

My complaint is that I don't want my email touched and I don't want any domains blacklisted without my knowledge. That is certainly the case right now and I don't like it one bit.

3 Reviews : A Movie, A Book and A Play (with bonus reviews!!)

...neither related...

First the book. I'm just about done this book called "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. This book is a book about the history of the Earth, and Science and more. It isn't as much a hard core science book as it is a continuous dialog about the connections over time of historical scientific events. What I guess I mean is that it reads like a smooth flowing TV show like Nova and less a technical manual. It doesn't get too deep into any one subject, but it has tons of references so you can dig as far as you like into stuff that is interesting. There are some amazing things you will learn in that book including the fact that we really should be dead right now (asteroid or volcano) and that the odds are that we shouldn’t have even made it as a species.. It's a cool book. Go get a copy and try it.

Second the movie. I can't remember who recommended it to me or why it got on my Netflix list, but it has been on there for a really long time and finally I got it and watched it. And I'm so glad I did. The film is called "What the #$*! Do We Know?" and it's a film about Quantum Physics and how it relates to our lives. For those of you know a little about QP you already know that it is some insane stuff and that studying it takes one really close to thinking about existence and god and the like. This film also heads into those topics, as well as brain chemistry. It makes you think in the same way you would after you saw "The Matrix" (in fact it steals some quotes and SFX from that film). It asks questions like "What is reality?" "How are memories different than experience?", etc. There is some cool stuff in that film that make you want to pause it and just think for a day or two. I loved it and I bought it so I'll be watching it again and again.

As an aside, if you see the movie and like it, you should read two books after it that deal with some of the concepts you get exposed to. The first is one of my all-time favorites called "Conversations with God" which isn't a religious book at all, it's more an exploration of who we are and why we are here. The device used to drive the narrative is a bit hard to accept (you continually wonder if it is a device or if it indeed really occurred) but once you get past worrying about it, there is some amazing insights in that book. It essentially has become the way I live my life.

The other book (now I'm up to 3 books...) is one I talked about before called "Island" by Aldus Huxley. Wow! That was an amazing experience. I would give up my entire life and all possessions to live on that Island. The reason I mention it here is that the movie talked about concepts that Aldus had figured out in the 60's and put into this book. Simply awesome and something you should totally read.

Ok.. last but not least (and not connected) is this play I saw last night. It is called "Killer Joe" (playing at the Adrianne until May 28) and it was the kind of play that Tarantino would make. There was violence, nudity, cursing, drugs and it was all set in a trailer park. The play had a serious run off Broadway for a long while and while this production isn't up to those standards, it is thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. Tickets were $20 each and it was general admission. The theatre holds like 50 people and if you sit in the first or second rows you are essentially right in the trailer with the cast since you are so close. It really makes the performance quite intimate. There are some subtle issues with the performance but since I had such a great time I'm still going to recommend that you all buy a ticket or two and go see this play before it goes away!

Have a good weekend, I'm off...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Concord Party

I'm going to do some more research, but I think I may be joining the Concord Party. In either case, I think you all should check it out. I really want to see a viable third party form. The Democratic and Republican party are totally unfocused and totally about opposing the other. This is far from a good thing in my opinion. Just think if we had a congressional session where members put aside their parties and worked as a group. Think about how much they would accomplish. Adding a third party to the mix may in fact counter all the energy spent on fighting back and forth. It may actually help people focus on the issues at hand instead of how to beat each other.

the NSA has all our Phone Records

Yup. There is a database at the NSA where they can simply type in a phone number (or I assume a name) and all the calls to and from that person are listed. This was reported in USA Today yesterday. I was reading a few weeks ago (and now I'm really pissed that I didn't link to it) a piece written by an ex-network technician at AT&T (it may have been another phone network, but it doesn't matter) who talked about the NSA taking over a room in the switching center and having all the fiber lines routed through it (ostensibly to tap all the calls). (update.. I found the piece! here)

You can't tell me that you don't care. You can't tell me that it's for our own good. You can't tell me that the scale isn't bigger than what is being reported. You can't convince me that "tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaeda" (in my paraphrased quote of Senator Leahy from this piece.

Our privacy is gone, and not in a "well giving up some privacy adds convenience to my life" tech way. It's gone in an evil Big Brother kind of way and nobody seems to care. Sure you and I care. Sure the 5% of America that actually votes cares, but the rest of us either don't care or accept what the govt. tells them because it's easier than getting stressed out.

Your vote isn't as important as the vote of 10 of your friends. Write 10 of your friends and compel them to vote next week and in the general election. Compel them to do the same to 10 of their friends. People, we need to increase turnout, we need to vote, we need to make the government work for us and not the other way around!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Juggling

Some may say : "But he only juggles 3 balls.. that's nothing!". In the words of Luke, "Sometimes "nothin' is a real cool handcool.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Lego Venice

I love people who build stuff out of legos. Here is a pretty amazing installation where they recreated parts of Venice.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Book of Numbers

I just love flash animations that are done really well. The Book of Numbers, though I don't understand it is one of those things. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

eBook Reader

I really want an eBook reader. I've wanted one for like 5 years now. I love to read and I think that it would be awesome to buy my books in a digital format and have them all on one reader. After I was done with them, I could store the books on my server for future, maybe lend them to a friend like I do now with my real books.

The problem is that nobody has been able to get this right yet. The readers all so far have been bulky and have had miserable displays. The display is a huge part in my opinion. I hate reading stuff on LCD monitors and computer displays. I want something that looks like printed ink on paper.

The new Sony Reader has me intrigued. The display looks amazing, the batter life looks really good, the unit looks small and holdable, and they partially abandoned the goofy Sony Memory Stick and added an SD reader. I'm seriously thinking of buying one.

But I'm also skeptical. I'm pretty concerned about the proprietary sony BBeB format for the books. I mean, is it going to end up like beta? What if another format comes out and gets more popular? I've heard that a lot of books are being scanned into DRMed PDF files which the Sony apparently can't read. (It can read non DRM PDFs though).

I also want to know how many books are going to be available and how much they are going to cost. The sony bookstore is listed as "coming soon" so I'm worried about that. There is no way I'm buying the thing until I can see the bookstore. I guess with having their own bookstore they set up an iTunes kind of situation (which you all know I think is miserable).

The DRM thing has me really spooked. Will I be able to store the books on my server when I don't want them on the unit? Will they be shareable? Will they time out? Can I translate them to ASCII Text?

If they could get the DRM issues worked out, what would really sell me is if Amazon had a tie-in with it so if I'm looking for a book on Amazon, there could be a graphic on the book page that said "BBeB format available" and perhaps for an extra 15% I can get the real book and the BBeB file.

So there are questions to be answered, but I still may take the gamble and see. Anyone out there have any opinions on this?

the Safe Google Portal

As you all are aware, Google has been fighting the US Govt. over releasing search results. It's been written about a lot in the media and here in this blog in a couple of posts. I wonder if there exists (and if it doesn't, it should) somewhere a safe portal of sorts that allows you to do google searches anonymously. There are already anonymous email relay services, I can't believe that nobody has come up with an anonymous gateway for google...

How do they make a Paperclip?

Well, the answer can be found here. But the real reason I'm posting is becasue of the madehow website. Here is a website filled with a ton of articles on how things are made. From a Nuclear Submarine to a Baseball Bat. How cool is that?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gas Prices

When it comes to high gas prices, Gov Corzine is mad. And I'm not saying mad like as in angry but mad as in crazy. About as crazy as everyone else who wants 'relief' from these high prices. New Jersey is one of the only states (Oregon is the other) that mandates full service gas stations. Compared to gas in PA, their gas is actually cheaper. Corzine wants to try a few stations at self-serve to see if prices will go down further. My guess is that the big oil companies would love this. Overall, they would be able to hire less labor and eventually their prices will float up and they will make more money than they are now. Corzine says that we can try it out and see how it works. I'll tell you right now how it will work. The prices will be held artificially lower for a while by the companies.. just long enough to convince the state to repeal the law and then in a matter of weeks we'll have self-serve across NJ and then the prices will slowly float up again. So we'll have the same gas prices and less service. (apparently I'm not the only one against this idea)

In PA they are talking about a temporary repeal of the state gas tax. Another brilliantly stupid idea. That tax is there to provide funds that are already spent or budgeted. We remove that tax and the state will have to cut services in some other place to make up for it.

Want to know how to deal with high gas prices? Stop driving your cars so much. Car pool more, take public transportation. Stop driving inefficient vehicles.

I look at high gas prices as a very good thing. I think over time it will force us to conserve more. It will force us to think about fuel efficiency. It may force us to invest more money in trains and other forms of mass transit. We may in fact, shudder, walk more and bike more and become more healthy. Wow.. imagine that!

Easter at the White House

Not sure who of you have seen this, but wow! It looks like easter at the white house was a real blast this year!