Mar/22
2011
I'm sorry that the sound of your eating crunchy food within earshot makes me insane. Maybe you'll get used to me scrabbling madly for my headphones and get the message. No? I thought not.
Mar/22
2011

Et Tu Odwalla?

Wtf. Good juice just got more expensive for less product. Odwalla used to be just under $4 at whole foods for 15.2 fl oz (450 mL). Now it's just under $3 for 12 fl oz (355 mL). What the shit is that? Bullshit.
Mar/22
2011
Awww snap. Still I'm getting my money's worth. But it figures, I buy a game and the next week it goes on sale...
Mar/21
2011
Well I'm damn glad ATI (er I mean AMD) actually had the forethought to put that one line of text in there. True I was mostly hypnotized by the glowing green bar, but it was late and I was tired so I wasn't fidgeting around like usual as I upgraded my 4800's drivers (yes, 2 of them thanks.) Sure enough the screen didn't flicker it went blank (NO SIGNAL) and again. And again. And again. At least 4 times. I stayed calm. Sure enough it all came back in the end but eesh. Thanks for the warning guys, maybe a little larger next time?
Mar/21
2011
Three photographs, published in the German magazine Der Spiegel, show members of the self-designated “Kill Team” comprised of United States Army soldiers who are accused of making a sport of killing innocent Afghans as they show off one of their victims in a kind of trophy photo; another photograph shows two Afghan civilians who appear to be dead. Der Spiegel, which published the photographs in its March 20 print edition, blurred the victims’ faces so that their expressions cannot be seen. While that makes the photographs somewhat less inflammatory than they might otherwise be, it does not conceal the faces of the soldiers, who look disconcertingly satisfied as they kneel next to an Afghan civilian who appears to be dead. (NYT)
The 'Kill Team' refers to All-American soldiers: Specialist Jeremy N. Morlock and Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes of Boise. Apparently they liked to shoot people, for fun. Of course that's kind of why a job in the military was a good choice for them because here back home that kind of thing is frowned upon. Especially since the rules of engagement differ when you're not on US soil. They knew how to discriminate, which was good. But they didn't know how to keep it to themselves, which was bad. Now they face charges for being unconscionably stupid and making their country look bad. Because let's be honest, that's really all anyone cares about. The vast majority of humans on this planet care about image, the fact that a handful of people were blithely murdered only bothers their immediate families, if that. We're a funny race that way, we love to pin blame but we do little to prevent such lapses in morality and if anything we do lots to glorify it. In fact we love to justify after the fact "it was the environment, the tension, they way they were trained, raised, exposed to violent video games., etc." After the blame comes the excuse, like sex once you've climaxed you're willing to forgive just about anything for the next few minutes. Unless the killers really are "natural born." Then we go after them with a vengeance.
The American Bird Conservancy estimates that up to 500 million birds are killed each year by cats — about half by pets and half by feral felines. “I hope we can now stop minimizing and trivializing the impacts that outdoor cats have on the environment and start addressing the serious problem of cat predation,” said Darin Schroeder, the group’s vice president for conservation advocacy.
So cats are evil? More evil than the red-white and blue "Kill Team"? I mean they're accomplished and acknowledged killers. They flaunt their trophies, even going so far as to bring home half-dead, half-maimed victims to flop and thrash while they sport with them. Mind you neither Morlock or Holmes tortured their victims, at least to my knowledge, so does that make them better or worse than my cuddly but deadly kitty? I guess it depends on where you choose to draw the line between intelligence and instinct. Frankly I don't. Stupidity is repulsive, but it's part of life. No one complains when the terrorists behead people, which an unparalleled act of sheer stupidity, but they do when the soldiers fighting them respond in a similar, if more humane, vein. Cats kill. People kill. Does anyone really have a choice in the matter? Would more intelligent cats kill less? Do less intelligent people kill more? Frankly who cares. This is the way things are, and the sooner we learn to accept it the better. Maybe if more soldiers killed at random we'd have cleaned up Afghanistan sooner. Maybe if cats didn't kill birds we'd have birdshit and germs all the hell over. If I asked you which you'd prefer I'd be willing to bet I know the answer.
Mar/20
2011

Un-SecureID

Everyone and their uncle has one of those little gray fobs. Semi-keyhole shaped, the tiny device provides an ever-changing code that combines with another password to enable "secure" validation of a user trying to log onto a system. Only it's not really so secure. At least not any more...
SAN FRANCISCO — The RSA Security division of the EMC Corporation said Thursday that it had suffered a sophisticated data breach, potentially compromising computer security products widely used by corporations and governments.[...] Mr. Coviello said that the company’s investigation had revealed that the intruder successfully stole digital information from the company that was related to RSA’s SecurID two-factor authentication products. He did not give precise details about the nature of the information, but said it could potentially reduce the effectiveness of the system in the face of a “broader attack.” The company said that there was currently no indication that the information had been used to attack its customers. (NYT)
We all know it's China so lets ignore the "who done it" part of the exercise. What's much more relevant (and annoying) is the total freakout-paranoia that has resulted. Companies using SecureID are taking drastic measures and draconian measures that are going to negatively impact the ability of their employees to get their work done. Worse these measures aren't being thoughtfully applied as needed, no, it's slash-and-burn, salt-the-earth mayhem. The facts are simple enough for anyone to understand: for a system to be usable it needs to provide access to users who can *use* it. Access requires some sort of logon and authentication. Any logon and authentication, even on isolated systems, can be compromised (unless of course you choose to leave it powered off in which case you don't have a "system" so much as you have an expensive doorstop.) Contingency plans need to be made to secure as much as you can, realizing that sometime, somewhere, somehow it will be compromised. We don't live in a bubble folks. That's life. But in order to make progress we need to be able to do our daily jobs, and that means accepting risk. So please, take your pants off your head and stop running around screaming, I really need to get back to work.
Mar/20
2011
Short version: chubby kid gets harassed for years and finally snaps. Picks up the smaller tormentor and tosses him to the ground. Both kids get 4 days suspension from the school (note the school did absolutely dick to provide a safe environment, but they have no problem suspending both the bully and the victim.) If you want to here's the you tube video (providing they haven't moved it for the umpteenth time). This one with more detail on the events probably won't get deleted: http://mainemartialarts.com/news/commentary-casey-haynes-australian-kid-bullied-caught-video/ His mother is upset that this was caught on video, and the mother of the bully is demanding an apology from the kid her son was picking on. Finally the school system is actually thinking about pressing charges against Casey and his family, mainly because they're fucking dickheads that are probably embarrassed as hell by the whole thing (who better to pick on than the weaker party - now you see why they never did anything about it in the first place.) So yeah, here's a big fat fuck you to his school and their administrators. He's the hero and you're all the scum-sucking zero.
Mar/20
2011
. . . what did you expect? You cut your hair is such a freakish ... er... I mean unique way and you expect no one is going to take a picture? AOL news pegged the look as "The unique hairstyle is a combination of a punk rocker's traditional mohawk mixed with the notorious tufts worn by Flock of Seagulls frontman Mike Score."
I would have to concur with that assessment. However, I might be more inclined to say a Mohawk meets Bozo the Clown and a Cupie Doll. Yeah, I'm not entirely sure what look Mr. Washburn was going for or what his inspiration was. Ladies, I'm sure he is man enough for you all. Line forms to the left and no need to clawing each other to run your fingers through those locks. But it gets better, after a man took his picture, Mr. Washburn wanted the photographer to delete the pic. When the photographer refused, Mr. Washburn's buddy, Timothy Beard stole the photographer's sunglasses and Mr. Washburn whacked the photographer in the head with his skateboard. Mr. Washburn and Mr. Beard, you are both douches. I bet you never expected to be memorialized in mug shots. You should have just left that photographer alone. The most he might have done is put it in a blog and make fun of you. And all that stuff about the ladies? Yeah, that was sarcasm. You don't have to fear mobs of women chasing you down the street looking for a shag. Of course maybe the bearded lady is looking a date . . .
Mar/19
2011

The Witcher Is Worthwhile

Diablo was good, back in the day. Diablo II was better. Sure there were a few other RPGs of note, or semi-note: Sacred, Dungeon Siege, maybe even Torchlight more recently although I never finished that one, but I have a new standard and it's called The Witcher (wikipedia link). Overall I'm really more an FPS person than an RPG-er but this game trumps all the issues I typically have. It has a remarkably complex story plot (save early, save often, you'll find yourself rolling back more than once after you make a choice that had an unpredictable result although none will prevent you from finishing quests, some choices may give you additional ones.) The graphics are damn good considering when it was published and, best of all, it costs $20 for instant-download-from-Steam gratification. I didn't buy the game because of anyone else's review. Frankly I'm the first of my friends to own this game and since then I've evangelized the hell out of it. I know sequel is coming out shortly, The Witcher 2, but it's been two solid weeks of game play (with one restart) and I'm not yet half way through the content. It's so good I don't even want to rush. A few foibles, or oddities of note: you have to take your time. Talk to people like you would in real life, not just because their name gets mentioned in the quest ("go talk to so and so and say such and such.") That was my first mistake and why I decided to restart from scratch. When I did only that I sped through the content hungrily trying to bring each thread to closure. Big mistake. I missed out on a ton of rich content - ghosts of dead kings with dire warnings and several trysts with very fair maidens and um... female creatures of lore (it's groovy being green let me tell you.) On that note another 'interesting' feature are the dalliances themselves. If you score a female of note you get a very artfully rendered card to gawk at that provides an illustration of the maid in question coyly posed in a provocative (or evocative) setting. Far from being irked at what might seem like an immature version of "ya gotta collect 'em all" I've been intrigued. It's a fine line between art and pron and the game knows just where to slice it. Finally the combat. As with most RPGs you gather skill points as you progress and place them where you like in skill trees. The combat system, combined with the keyboard/mouse style of movement, is very satisfying. You feel sufficiently in control and at the same time not overloaded so you can't watch the skillful moves of your hero. Overall I give The Witcher a 10 out of 10. Length of play, art, rendering, reliability, storyline, character growth and pure slash-n-hack satisfaction. Further there is a wealth of help out on the web for people who get stuck (see the Witcher wiki at witcher.wikia.com) or just want more explanation (they warn you before revealing any plot details.) Note that I did encounter 1 bug - when I first started playing I would get a lockup from my video card about once every 2 - 3 days. To solve that I turned the settings all the way down for anti-aliasing and possibly depth of field (turned it down anyway don't know if I needed to) and no problems since. Also no noticeable change in the quality of the graphics. So in summary, if you're bored, looking for a good, long, meaty game to sink your teeth into try the Witcher. You won't be sorry. Not for 20 bucks that's for damn sure.
Mar/18
2011
I hate daylight savings time, especially in the spring. I hate extracting myself from bed an hour earlier and waiting an hour longer to see the first crack of dawn that tells me that it is indeed morning. It just plain sucks for people who aren't morning people. And you can tell the morning people, they are the ones smiling saying "but it is light longer! That's great!" Eh, whatever. Morning people are annoying. There is the argument that it saves electricity. Lights in the morning vs. lights in the evening is still lights. Unless electricity in the morning is cheaper and requires less energy to produce than electricity in the evening, I don't understand. I also wonder how much is lost on productivity the week or two following the switch in spring. I can only speak for myself, but I was dragging ass for two days. We are talking zombiefied dragging. My brain refused to work and I felt like shit. Oh, I spend the required time in bed, but my body refused to sleep like a very bad three year old. I am adjusting, but nearly a week of lack of sleep seems to have taken it's toll. I think I am getting a cold. So much for productivity next week. Generally, in my opinion, daylight savings time sucks. BFD that sun is up "later" in the evening.
Mar/17
2011
The New York Times has an article today that discusses the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant which is just a stones throw from New York City. Some people who live near the plant are not bothered, others are. Some people are just plain bothered by nuclear power. Some became bothered when it was discovered that the plant is in close proximity to two fault lines. To these folks I say: This is not Japan. It was the tsunami that did the most damage to the plants, not the earthquake itself. Indian Point is also located 35 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River. It would take a tsunami that would wipe out all of New York City to damage Indian Point to the extent seen at the power plants in Japan. If that were to occur, there would likely be very few people to evacuate left. In a nut shell, the fault line types and the geology of New York and northern Japan are very different and potential scenarios are very different. Another thing of which people may not be aware: Governmental agencies in charge of safety at nuclear power plants do regular bench top drills. In other words, they develop a hypothetical scenario and run through it. They have people throw potential curve balls at the group and come up with solutions. Afterward they assess the response and determine what they could have done better. These exercises reduce their reaction time to predictable problems and hone their problem solving skills for those that they did not anticipate. Will a real emergency run smoothly? Probably not, no emergency does. However, those involved will be prepared as much as they can. Bottom line: Unless we want to embrace a lifestyle like the Amish, we need electricity. Until we come up with something better, we need nuclear power if we have any hope of extracting ourselves from reliance on foreign fossil fuels. Those responsible for nuclear power are doing what they can to keep it as safe as possible. So take a deep breath and hope that the big one doesn't hit.
Mar/16
2011
Do I have your attention? Do you notice we have not seen anything like that in the headlines? There is no news of rioting in Japan. It seems that the Japanese are restraining themselves in crisis of huge, nearly inconceivable, proportions. If anything, the level of dignity they are maintaining is admirable. Would human behavior be just as civilized if a similar crisis happened here in the US? Unfortunately I think we all know the answer to that question. We all saw what happened during a catastrophe here in the US only a mere 5 ½ years ago. Think about it. If it wasn’t for the whole language thing, I might consider moving to Japan. I’m sure my neighbors would be nicer, or at the very least more polite. Heck, there are some in the US that exhibit thuggish behavior when they “celebrate” (see my recent post), so what can we expect when things are dire.
Mar/16
2011
I have a monthly meeting with nearly 20 people invited. Last month when I give my opinion I was verbally beat on. I have something else going on this month so I cannot easily attend and suddenly some want to reschedule the meeting. I wish I could tell all of them to go fuck themselves, but I can't. They want me to smile and agree to some bullshit that makes them feel better. I cannot agree to the bullshit, it's junk science. I'm not going to give feel-good nonsense a rubber stamp. I’m included in the process to give my professional opinion. Just because the over-inflated egos of some politicians don't agree with my approach I am their favorite whipping post. Whip away, it doesn't change my professional opinion.
Mar/16
2011
Clear cut case of "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." All you fucking people badmouthing Alexandra have never ranted about someone? I call bullshit on that.
LOS ANGELES — When Alexandra Wallace recorded her rant about Asian students using cellphones in the library at the University of California, Los Angeles, she was alone, speaking to her computer. But since she posted the three-minute video to YouTube, Ms. Wallace, a third-year political science student at U.C.L.A., has achieved a sudden, unwelcome celebrity: her video has been viewed by millions of people, and she has become the subject of nationwide condemnation and the catalyst of a debate about racial intolerance and free speech. “Please expel this ignorant woman immediately,” Kiki Gyrle wrote on Facebook, where there are many posts about Ms. Wallace, some too profane to print. “Tolerating such discourse of hate and racism is now being construed as policy to condone such tirades.”
Kiki you ignorant twat don't you read the news? This is America. And even idiots like you are allowed by law (recently re-emphasized by the Supreme Court) to speak their mind. Alexandra's irritation at Asian students on the phone may be seen as mean or insensitive but it in no way reflects on the school and its policies. Get a grip people and stop lambasting anyone foolish enough to put their feelings out for all to see. You clicked. You read it. That's what the internet is all about, dishing, dumping, blasting and ranting. Q.E.D. Jackasses. Look, she'll have enough problems getting a job after this, but UCLA doesn't have a limb to stand on in terms of reprimanding her. And technically? She's right. I'm sure the Library doesn't have "tsunami exceptions" to their no-cell-phone policy rules. So stfu.
Mar/16
2011
I'm furious. This is unconscionable. We, the US of A. just paid Pakistan to release our citizen after he shot the two men who attacked him.
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — An American CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistani men was released from prison Wednesday and left Pakistan after more than $2 million in "blood money" was paid to his victims' families, defusing a dispute that threatened an alliance vital to defeating al-Qaida and ending the Afghan war. In what appeared to be carefully choreographed end to a crisis that had stoked anti-Americanism to new heights, the U.S. Embassy said the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the killings on Jan. 27 by Raymond Allen Davis. It thanked the families for "their generosity" in pardoning Davis. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied the U.S. had made any payments, but she didn't dispute that the men's families were compensated. A lawyer for the families said the money came from the Americans.
Fucking no it didn't "come from the Americans" because I'm an American and it sure as shit didn't come from me. Yes, I'm sure they used my tax dollars, yes he worked for the CIA, yes he was there to sneak around and learn things under the covers, yes he fucked up and got his cover blown but no, Pakistan had no right to put him in jail, on trial and make a big, fat, fucking farce of our international relationship. 2 million? Really? 2 fucking million to the families of petty thieves who made a living holding up anyone and everyone? Now their mothers and wives get rich, their country men get to make these losers who did nothing useful, hurting and stealing from others, into martyrs. Great, we just empowered the families of criminals, setting a new standard for what young people in Pakistan can aspire to: "Hold Up An American! Become A Hero!" Oh wait, that's already the Taliban motto isn't it? I can't believe we bailed this guy out. I can't believe our government caved and didn't just fucking hold back $2 million or $2 billion dollars of the money we're pouring into that nation, money that primarily goes directly into the pockets of those in power. $2 million? How many school budgets would that balance here, back home? If the answer is even "one" then clearly this was good money gone, not just to waste, but probably funneled back into agencies that want to kill us. $2 million dollars buys a lot of hate, blood money, and it will be our blood too.
Mar/15
2011

Awesome

Some people think lots of things are awesome. They sit back and see the things in their life, and decide which things are awesome. The new soda is awesome. The sale at the mall is awesome. That BBQ sauce is awesome. A fast car is awesome. That girl's breasts are awesome. There are millions of cases every day where some event or object in our life is considered awesome. Maybe it's just me, but that seems tawdry and ordinary. Recently, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have been labeled as awesome, if only for it's destructive force. That's closer. The power required to shift continents and move oceans is certainly on the right scale for awesome. But, it's closer to the bottom end of the spectrum in my opinion. If you ever out into the deep dark night, far from any cities or light, look up and stare for a minute at the vast stream of light pouring down from the night sky. A long splash of light from the Milky Way. Looking at it on edge, as we do, you can make out roughly 2,500 stars with the naked eye, back-lit by a vast mist of light. In fact, most of the 'mist' is made up of huge quantities of stars. 100-400 BILLION of them. We're 30,000 light years away from galactic center, which means that the light from it we're seeing right now, started it's journey back when Neanderthal still roamed across the plains. To cross the Milky Way from side to side, you would have to travel 590,000,000,000,000,000 miles. That's 590 quadrillion miles. That number is so large that the human brain is incapable of really processing it, regardless of context. To consider it as a distance is completely unfathomable. And even if you could wrap your thoughts around that, the universe throws so much more at you. Our galaxy is one of at least 100 billion galaxies, each with their own collection of 100 billion stars spanning a universe that stretches out over 14 billion light years in every dimension Awesome things don't have to be the enormity of the universe. It doesn't have to be the ocean take a step to the left. It doesn't have to be the first cry of a newborn babe. But it does have to be life changing and mind altering. To me, that is truly awesome. Something entirely capable of making a person gasp in awe if they ever really considered the scope and size of the universe around them. When perceived, the awesome stops you in your tracks and demands to be noticed. It demands that your alter your grasp on reality to deal with it. Sadly, most people never dare to allow their minds to wrap around that sort of thing. It's too much for them to accept so they move past it without really processing it. They're just memorizing a factoid without parsing it fully. They see the awesome, think about how "neat" it is and move on. They reject the awesome because they refuse to change themselves to accept it. Instead, they sit in their mundane lives and complain that they're bored. They demand entertainment. Stimulation for the brains that they have largely failed to use. They seek out the tired and mundane. And they call it 'awesome'.
Mar/15
2011
Even the people posting comments had a hard time sympathizing with the premise of the post...
For Elderly Muslims, Few Care Options Outside the Home [..]Older parents who do come to the United States often live an insulated existence. “They don’t speak the language, so people can’t communicate with them,” said Ms. Nadir. For them, life in a majority of residential facilities would be an alien experience. “Many of the facilities are not equipped to provide the kind of care a Muslim elder needs — requirements for diet, for prayers, for things that would make a comfortable setting,” she said. “We can’t count on those things in most elder care facilities. They’re not used to us.” (NYT)
Before the Muslims came to the US there were Jews and Irish and Chinese and well, fucking everybody. At sometime in the history of America there were different waves from different nations that brought their own culture. Oddly enough those cultures didn't really have a problem assimilating. They learned, they adapted and still magically managed to maintain their cultural identity without imposing additional burdens on others. But apparently not Muslims, at least not the type discussed in this post. You see we're supposed to feel sympathy that when children brought over their parents they never enrolled them in English-speaking classes. They never tried to integrate them into the neighborhood. They kept their relatives isolated, insulated, away from what America really is: multiculturalism. So no, sorry, no sympathy for you as you take on the care of your aging parent. You don't get to lament the lack of tailored facilities because you never took the time to participate in the communities or businesses that could have sponsored them. If orthodox Jews could manage then Muslims can too, unless of course they're less capable?