Mar/24
2011
Yeah yeah getting involved in another war sucks... but only when we're not actively blowing the shit out of stuff right? Because using up our aging bombs and munitions is a real problem. Now we get to put them to good use. The only time the war will suck is if we get stuck patching the place back together. Right now I think the French have kinda volunteered to do that. Since you know, well, they used to run the joint in the past. In summary: blowing stuff up - good, rebuilding and getting people to cooperate - bad. More of the former and less of the latter please!
Mar/24
2011
Today I noticed something strange. Usually the commute to work is fraught with angry, anxious people desperate to get to work on time (even if they're not yet late.) People are aggressive, cutting off their fellow commuters, honking horns, slamming on brakes. Usually. But not today. Why? I noticed that for some reason a *lot* of my fellow commuters were on the phone. Probably coincidence, but regardless of the lane they were in they were just toodling along at a reasonable pace, no aggression, no intensity in their expression just a mild, distracted air. I was pleasantly surprised that I could change lanes, take exits and generally get to work without any adrenalin rush at all. Strange, but I appreciated it. Could I get a repeat please?
Mar/24
2011
You're probably saying who the hell is Sam Grobart? And you're right. Who the hell is Sam Grobart and why the fuck are people all over his Op-ed piece entitled Gadgets You Should Get Rid Of (or Not). Don't bother reading it I can summarize it for you in one line: Throw out all electronics you depend on and only use a smart phone. Oh and if you don't have one go buy one. Also fork over an additional $30 per month for the internet connectivity that your cell provider will charge you. Um bullshit? 1. I like my desktop. It's upgradeable. I can easily replace bits and pieces as they die. Myself. Let's see you do that with your laptop. 2. High speed? Baby I had high-speed before anyone else. I had cable in 98. I had FIOS when it first came out. What's so brilliant about telling people to keep a service they depend on? That's like saying "Air. Keep breathing it." Duh. 3. Cable TV. Only look at it when I'm not on a computer. Which is never. 4. Point and shoot camera. I like mine, it has great battery life. Good quality. Tracking and movie features only found in the expensive phones. Why would I get rid of something that can hold a crapton of JUST pictures without eating into my music space? 4. Camcorder. A what? Never owned one personally. 5. Thumbdrive. Probably the most moronic recommendation of all. WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE A NET CONNECTION SAMMY WHAT DO YOU DO THEN? DICTATE? Thumbdrives have saved my keister more than once, especially when I needed to load a new NIC driver. Stupid recommendation. Fast, efficient, great backup for key files when your system shits. Not all meeting rooms have systems with an internet connection. Clearly you never had to give a presentation. 6. Music player. I like mine. It's the size of my thumb. I can exercise with it. Which I can't with my phone. 7. Alarm clock. Yeah. Whatever. 8. GPS. I keep it in my car so I don't forget it. It's cheap and I don't care if it gets stolen. Unlike, say, my phone. 9. Books. Don't even go there, you'd lose. Basically Sam got a sweet little kickback from Apple for this piece. He wants you to believe that all you need is love and an iPod. And trust me, you'll be needing a lot of love once you drop in the toilet by accident and that iPod and it becomes an iRock along with all your photos, music, and directions on how to get home...
Mar/22
2011
South Dakota wants to “educate, counsel and otherwise assist women to help them maintain their relationship with their unborn children” which includes victims of rape and incest. The Taliban couldn't do any better. What kind of country forces women who have suffered to endure more suffering? What kind of state puts women's rights below those of an "ideal" without any offset for the cost, mental, physical and financial that such a child would represent? What kind of person would jam these burdens on victims and women who cannot manage the situation they're in? You'd think it was a state desperately worried about the rise in abortion numbers, but think again.
South Dakota’s is the most far-reaching of the bills to become law, Ms. Nash said. Despite an abortion rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the state has become a battleground over the issue in recent years, with the Legislature passing a number of laws aimed at curbing abortions, some of which have been overturned by the courts and by voters in two referendums. Those laws that remain are already restrictive by national standards. The state, for example, requires a one-day waiting period and some counseling, mandating that women be told that an abortion “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.”
I'm not even a doctor and I know that last line is hogwash. A fetus is in no way whole, nor separate from it's mother. Show me how you can grow a baby in a jar first, then maybe I'll agree with you. Oh and in classic WoS style? Fuck you South Dakota. And fuck you Leslee Unruh (founder of the "Alpha Center" which preys on pregnant women, and a leader of anti-abortion efforts). I know you're a tranny in bad drag but that's no reason to take your hatred out on real women.
Mar/22
2011
Anyone ever having to deal with their infant/toddler in a child seat knows one key thing: it's harder to drive if you can't make eye contact with your child. This is something the proponents of keeping children in rear-facing child seats seem to neglect. They simply don't adjust their calculations for the gymnastics, gyrations and distraction the driver has to cope with when they can't get a full glimpse of their baby.
Toddlers are usually switched from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats right after their first birthday — an event many parents may celebrate as a kind of milestone. But in a new policy statement, the nation’s leading pediatricians’ group says that is a year too soon.[..] The new policy statement also advises that older children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, and 8 to 12 years old. A booster seat allows the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt to fit properly, meaning the lap portion of the belt fits low across the hips and pelvis, and the shoulder portion fits across the middle of the shoulder and chest.
The nation's leading pediatricians are pure scientists. Frankly it would be safer for EVERYONE except the driver to face the rear of a car. But it certainly wouldn't be comfortable, engaging or realistic. Turning baby around so they can see the parents, see the surroundings, be engaged by Mommy or Daddy inevitably leads for less tantrums and more focus for the adults. Sure if you *do* get into an accident it's great that baby has a greater chance of survival, but when junior has lost their pacifier, is choking on spit up, or can't reach their bottle its far safer for everyone if the driver can keep one eye on the road when they reach back to rectify the distress (don't even think that a parent won't.) Great science guys. Not practical. Oh and putting a 5', 120 lb pre-teenager in a booster seat? Rofl. Yeah you try it.
Mar/22
2011
Her ratings must be down, she's back to blogging about sex again and this time the concepts will astound you...
The researchers surveyed 3,240 men and 3,304 women who were married, living with a partner or in a relationship, asking them about their satisfaction with their sex lives. A majority of men (54 percent) and nearly as many women (42 percent) said they were unhappy with the frequency of sex, according to the report, published in the March issue of The Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. (NYT)
From that little bit of Australian medical science journalism we get this utterly brilliant, utterly Holmes-ian bit of deduction. Ready? I'm sure you're paralyzed with excitement. Hold on here it comes.
Men and women who were unhappy with the frequency of sex in their relationship were also most likely to report lower levels of overall relationship satisfaction.
And there you have it folks! Fan-fucking-tastic no? Astonishing. Amazing. Brilliant. yawn. Oh and if you're so concerned about what to do if you think you fall into that category (whether or not you live in Australia) here this little bit of ground breaking news...
One solution may be to schedule time for sex, just as couples set aside time for meals, work and family activities, said Dr. Smith.
Gosh gee whiz wow - how romantic. Put something on my calendar would'ja? Just remember to mark it "private".
Mar/22
2011
The new case asks whether Congress acted constitutionally in 1994 by restoring copyrights in foreign works that had belonged to the public, including films by Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, books by C. S. Lewis and Virginia Woolf, symphonies by Prokofiev and Stravinsky and paintings by Picasso, including “Guernica.”
So in essence the question is - if something has been in the public domain can you "take it away" and start charging for it? Well the answer is, of course, yes you can do that and further you will be hurting people who then can't afford to pay for the "privilege" of playing a classical composition or teaching with historic artwork.
In other words, said Anthony T. Falzone of the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, which represents the plaintiffs, the Constitution meant to create incentives, not monopolies. “The whole point wasn’t to protect stuff,” he said. “It was to encourage people to make stuff, and everybody’s lost sight of that.”
No one ever meant for any sort of art to be kept under lock and key. Paying for the right to play music that was written is against the notion of what composing is all about. Charging people to view an image created expressly to motivate, inspire, or move someone is an atrocity, it's making money for people who want to restrict the piece. Something a true artist never wants or intends. Musicians want their works heard. Artists want their pieces seen. It's not about some money grubbing asshole still grabbing cash long after the artist is dead.
That economic calculation rankled Mr. Falzone [representing the plaintiffs in a case against the law]. “You’re selling public property,” he said. “Congress literally took the public’s property and handed it over to foreign copyright owners.”
Mar/22
2011
Talk about morbid humor. This wins the award.
Think they were just fucking retards who couldn't remember that coat hangers were the "option of choice" to induce abortions (and perforate internal organs) before abortion became legal? Or do you think these guys just have one fucked up sense of humor?
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.