08 Nov 2010 @ 7:20 AM 

Dubya’s autobiography is out this week, so he’s finally come out of hiding to discuss his legacy. I thought that was something he was going to let historians do, but he just couldn’t wait or something.  You’ll never guess what he considers the worst moment of his presidency.  Maybe when the towers fell? Nope. How about when the banking industry just about ate the economy? Not that either. When the entire world found out that Rumsfeld has been supervising torture of random foreigners? Not even close. Oh, how about when one of the oldest cities in the country was erased by a flood which could have been prevented by decent maintenance and the people were forced to stay in the city at gunpoint while mercenaries roamed the streets looting people of their own firearms? Not that either.

Amazingly, George W. Bush believes the worst moment in a presidency filled with bad moments is when Kanye said he didn’t care about black people. He’s not tormented in his post-President retirement by the things he might have done differently or the thousands of people who died while he was in nominal charge, but by the fact that someone said something mean about him on television. WTF?

MATT LAUER: You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your Presidency?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes. My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And — it was a disgusting moment.

What an infantile and self-centered view of the most powerful office in the world.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 08 Nov 2010 @ 09:43 AM

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 29 Oct 2010 @ 1:35 PM 

Halloween is this weekend, and with it come all the various modern changes to the traditional Trick or Treat. We have “Trunk or Treat” where kids wander a parking lot. We have “Safe Trick or Treat” where kids make a lethargic loop of the mall, behind a veritable conga-line of hundreds of other children. We have a bunch of sanctioned, known-safe haunted houses. We don’t have the near-universal Trick-or-Treat participation that most of us adults remember from our own childhoods, though. Although to watch any evening news broadcast would lead you to believe we live in a ridiculously dangerous time, the opposite is really true.

The rate of violent crimes is the lowest it has been since 1973, the rate of property crimes the lowest since 1968. Children are almost never kidnapped by anyone, and when they are it’s almost always by a non-custodial parent (about evenly split between women and men). The only time a child has been poisoned by Halloween candy, it was his own father who gave it to him to collect the life insurance money (father of the year was executed in 1984).

If you’re avoiding taking your rugrats out to beg for candy because you think your neighbors are going to try to kill them, don’t worry.  Have fun, try not to eat so much sugar in one sitting, and have a great weekend!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 29 Oct 2010 @ 01:35 PM

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 22 Oct 2010 @ 12:45 PM 

If you’re a geek, you’ve thought of or maybe even built a home-theater PC – that strange device which is a full-fledged computer hooked up to your television. Most of the rest of the TV-watching public, however, is utterly uninterested in such geekery. They do want to see their Youtube videos and Netflix streams on the bigger screen, but they’re not interested in doing the hard work necessary to put them there.

Enter Google TV and Roku boxes and Apple TV. A simple, somewhat affordable (Logitech, why 300 bucks?) device, hooked up to your television and your internet connection, enter some passwords and usernames, BAM! Internet media on your television. That’s the dream, right?

Google TV has been blocked from streaming ABC, NBC, and CBS shows from the networks’ web sites. Think about this for a minute, and you may begin to see the point of view of Network Neutrality advocates. Google TV uses Chrome, the web browser, to access ABC’s website. The user on his couch sees the web site just as he would see it if he were using his regular PC to view that site. The same ads load. The same content is there. But, because the machine he’s using says (as it’s supposed to), “I’m a Google TV browser” – no soup for you.

Still here?  True, this is not an actual case of network neutrality being violated, because the ISP is not the one blocking content from flowing over their network. The content provider has the right, no matter how irrational, to prevent anyone from watching their content in any manner. They could capriciously decide that only certain blocks of IP addresses could view their shows online. They could browser sniff and decide that they don’t like Opera, even if Opera is perfectly capable technically of watching their content. They’ve decided they hate Google this week. By extension, their viewers, the ones who care enough about How I Met Your Mother to go to the CBS website and seek it out, the most avid viewers with the most brand loyalty – fuck them.

Interesting business decision.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 22 Oct 2010 @ 12:48 PM

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 18 Oct 2010 @ 8:28 AM 

Another in the list of strange things from Alaskan politics – Joe Miller’s security guards think they can arrest people. At a public event in a public school, private security guards handcuffed and detained a journalist because he had the audacity to ask the candidate questions. The Anchorage police were called, and told the security detail to uncuff the journalist (and hopefully to stop thinking they were cops). The guards even threatened to arrest other journalists for trespassing.  At a public school. During a “town hall” meeting. Open to the public.  WTF?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 18 Oct 2010 @ 08:28 AM

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 23 Sep 2010 @ 12:03 PM 

I’ve been playing Burnout Paradise on my computer (the old one and the seemingly cursed new one) since August 6th.  As of last week, the game started giving me an error that I couldn’t buy any downloadable content, due to one of four possible reasons:

  1. I was too young.
  2. My account was not allowed to purchase content.
  3. The content was not yet released.
  4. I was not signed in to my account.

So far as I could tell, none of those things applied.  I’m certainly above the age where I need permission to purchase anything, I was signed in and the content was not only released a year ago, I’d seen it offered for my purchase just last month.  I certainly hadn’t blocked myself from purchasing anything, but I also could find no information about that in my account one way or the other.

After 3 days of email, and one 40 minute chat, here are the tasks which I’ve been asked to accomplish under EA’s direction, while telling them at every step that my ACCOUNT must be borked on their end and maybe there’s a setting in there which they could check:

  • Clear the cache of my internet browser.  Since they couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me which browser engine is used for the in-game store, I cleared ALL of my caches in all 3 browsers (and both the 32- and 64-bit versions of IE).
  • Buy content from the Playstation store. Neat trick for a PC game.
  • Delete everything from my Windows temp directory. Sure, whatever.
  • Kill every process running on my machine other than Explorer and Taskmgr that weren’t owned by System. Right, let me kill 90 processes – some essential – just for fun.
  • Open 50 different ports in my firewall. Sure, whatever.
  • Uninstall and reinstall the game, erasing all traces from the registry as well.  That took a while.
  • Log in to the game. Duh?

Not only are some of those things bad ideas, some are even impossible or ludicrous.  If I killed every process owned by me that wasn’t Explorer, I’d effectively kill the browser I was using to communicate in the chat, as well as destabilizing my audio, video, and other hardware that has helper software.  Buying content from the Playstation store for my Windows game seems bizarre in the utmost.  I did uninstall and clear all registry bits and reinstall, as that MAY have been of some use.  I also cleared my caches, although the utility of that option still escapes me.

Naturally, after all this time and effort, including re-downloading a 3 gigabyte file, the game still won’t allow me to purchase any DLC.  I’m not even really planning to buy anything right now, I just figured after three days of seeing an error which I hadn’t seen the previous three weeks, there must be something WRONG that might need seein’ to.  This morning, they finally elevated this to second-level tech support.  WTF?  You would think my telling them that purchasing Playstation content for my Windows machine was ludicrous would cause them to elevate it, but no.  What finally put it over the top is when, on email #10 or so, the tech dork actually said I had to log in with my email address to access the game.  This is after I’d told them many times that the GAME was fine, the online-gaming portion was fine, the in-game browser was fine, it was just the in-game store which was broken, and gave an error indicating an ACCOUNT problem.  Finally, after that email where I told them they were ridiculous for thinking that I’d somehow logged in with someone else’s email address (which the game won’t allow and the game doesn’t use email addresses anyway), they finally said, “Oh, let me elevate this.”

I think the takeaway from this experience is, “If you buy an EA game, hope you never have problems.”

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 23 Sep 2010 @ 12:03 PM

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 14 Sep 2010 @ 7:16 AM 

I found it disturbing when people would defend some of our mistakes in Iraq by claiming we were better than Saddam, as if our goal was merely to be somewhat less evil than an authoritarian dictator who gassed his own people and ran rape rooms in his torture prison.  It appears the Democrats are using a similar strategy going into November: at least we’re not as bad as the GOP, right?

When DNC chair Tim Kaine was on the Daily Show a week or two back, Jon Stewart rightly lambasted him for the absurdity of their “Don’t give them the keys” approach.  Kaine had no real retort other than the tired statements of GOP perfidy.  Sure, the GOP did a lot of stupid venal petty shit during their years in power.  So, Dems, what are you doing different? They don’t seem to have a very compelling argument in their favor.

I could list all the ways in which I’m disappointed in the current administration and the Democrats in Congress, but Glenn Greenwald has a great piece today which has many nice links and great points to make.  Unlike some of his articles, this one is not biased against the GOP.  Greenwald is very clearly documenting the failures of the Democratic party, and even if you’re happy to see the Dems fail, it’s interesting to see in one place all the many ways in which they are using fearmongering and low expectations to try to hold onto power (power they haven’t really taken advantage of while they had it).

Change you can…definitely not see.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 06 Dec 2010 @ 12:25 PM

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 25 Aug 2010 @ 5:42 PM 

Maybe this story will start a new campaign like Mothers Against Dirty Drivers. Although the “nature” of the video is not disclosed, I’m willing to bet what type of video it was.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 25 Aug 2010 @ 05:42 PM

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 14 May 2010 @ 9:02 AM 


Youtube Video for the Facebook folks, since apparently Zuckerberg strips out the video embeds.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 14 May 2010 @ 09:02 AM

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 10 May 2010 @ 3:38 PM 

A fishing competition in Texas ended in accusations of cheating, which is probably common. What is less common is that the guy accused tried to get away with making his “winning” catch heavier by putting a one-pound lead weight in it.  I can just imagine how busted he felt when the fish sank when it was dropped in a tank at the judging booth.  Oops.  And, since it was a contest with a $55000 boat as the prize, it’s a felony.  Double oops.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 May 2010 @ 03:38 PM

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 04 May 2010 @ 1:16 PM 

Senator McCain, a man I once thought a decent and honorable human being, has become so enmeshed in the GOP machine he decried and rebelled against in previous decades, that he now says the law should be ignored when arresting American citizens for crimes in the USA. Astonishing.

Specifically, McCain says we should not inform suspects of their Constitutional rights if we think they’re guilty of terrorism. He says nothing about other crimes. What proves he’s engaging in simple “dog whistle” politics instead of actually saying anything of substance is that “Mirandizing” a suspect does not imbue them with any rights they didn’t already have. The only thing reading that list of Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights does is immunize the police from having confessional evidence thrown out in court. McCain must know these things, or he’s lost so much of his mental capacity the people of Arizona should remove him from office.

Let me state this very plainly for those who can’t remember their social studies and civics classes. The suspected incompetent NYC bomber, Faisal Shahzad, possesses certain rights from the mere fact of his being a legal resident and naturalized citizen of this country. Not telling him of those rights does not remove the rights. And, if he’s anything like the rest of us, he’s heard a version of the “Miranda Statement” a jillion times, besides being a naturalized citizen means he probably has actually studied the Constitution more than most natural-born citizens. But, and this is an important point, if the police fail to read him his rights and he then says something which could be considered incriminating, a judge may (not must, but may) disallow that statement from testimony. It all comes down to doing things the right way, so as to be more certain that a trial will bring about justice.

Meanwhile, Representative King (R-NY) says we should carefully consider where to place Mr. Shahzad before we indict him. I suppose that means the Congressman wants to leave open the possibility of sending Shahzad to a military detention facility and face a tribunal instead of a trial. Interestingly, those tribunals are incredibly inefficient, convicting only 3 people in nearly a decade – two of those people were later released during the Bush administration. During that same period, over 300 people were tried and convicted of terrorism charges in federal civilian courts. Sure seems to me, if you want to actually lock someone up for terrorism, you should try them in a federal court and lock them up in a federal super-maximum security prison when convicted. Nobody has ever escaped from a supermax prison. Ever.

Senator McCain would like to leave open the possibility that Shahzad will be released due to a piece of legal legerdemain, and Rep. King would like to lock Shahzad up in the most bizarre excuse for a legal system ever. Could the GOP come up with someone else to speak for them, please? It’s embarrassing, really.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 May 2010 @ 01:16 PM

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 08 Mar 2010 @ 7:41 AM 

Once again, the War on (some) Drugs has been made to look stupid and petty by its very nature. This time around, a SWAT team busted into a family’s house, shot their two dogs (one of them a very threatening Corgi), arrested the father and traumatized a child. And the big bad druggies they busted? Oh, they were caught with what the police describe as a “small amount” of marijuana. The parents have been charged with possession and with child endangerment. The possession charge is a misdemeanor.

Just to be perfectly clear here – the police believe that possessing a small amount of marijuana is child endangerment, but shooting two family pets in front of that same child is perfectly reasonable behavior.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 08 Mar 2010 @ 07:41 AM

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 06 Mar 2010 @ 12:12 PM 

Wow, that’s some incredible Facebook post…

Funny Facebook Fails
see more funny facebook stuff!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 06 Mar 2010 @ 12:14 PM

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 04 Mar 2010 @ 7:43 PM 

Any of my contacts not from California – have you ever heard of a Pee Chee?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 Mar 2010 @ 07:43 PM

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 23 Feb 2010 @ 1:50 PM 

After many years of being mocked by anyone with a modicum of understanding in medicine or science or reproducible results, homeopathy has been slammed by an actual governmental study in the UK.  I particularly like the line refuting the necessity to fund “traditional” medicine: “Witchcraft is traditional, so does that mean the MHRA should endorse that too?”

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 23 Feb 2010 @ 01:51 PM

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 05 Feb 2010 @ 12:00 PM 

Apparently the opening speaker of the Tea Party Convention is openly courting racists. Tom Tancredo, who is cuckoo for illegal aliens, started off the proceedings by claiming that President Obama was only elected because people who can’t say “vote” in English elected him. Wow, we must have an awful lot of non-English speakers in the USA, to have over 50% of the vote like that. And then he appeals to people to take back America from “them” – whoever they might be.

I find it interesting that all of Tancredo’s grandparents were immigrants (legal presumably) and yet he’s still so unabashedly xenophobic in his rhetoric. Just for full disclosure, my father’s family immigrated to this continent before the USA was founded (by over a century), and I somehow was capable of pronouncing the word “vote” and casting it for Obama.

Oh, and real socialists most assuredly do not consider this president one of them. At this point, many liberals are saying he’s not even one of them.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 12:00 PM

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 26 Jan 2010 @ 7:36 AM 

Thank you, California, for finally diverting some of the “oh no they didn’t” attention from Texas. Menifee, a town in Riverside County, has decided to pull the Webster Collegiate Dictionary from their school library, because it has definitions of terms like “oral sex” and the poor children just can’t handle such things. Seriously, didn’t everyone flip through the dictionary looking for dirty words, just because you could? Our children are not so delicate and easily bruised, people!

Is Menifee in the 909?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Jan 2010 @ 07:36 AM

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 31 Dec 2009 @ 11:59 PM 

2010. The year we make contact. Or not. Let’s see if I can beat 80% accuracy in this year’s predictions.

  1. Tablet PCs will continue to be something which almost nobody has heard of or cares about.
  2. President Obama will continue to be vilified by the Right as some sort of mythical evil being.
  3. The GOP will make some gains in the 2010 midterm elections.
  4. The US economy will improve enough that even people who watch Faux News have to admit it, although they will claim it’s improving despite anything that President Obama or the Democrats have done.
  5. There still won’t be a good crypto system that the public uses, despite ever-increasing threats from man-in-the-middle attacks.
  6. All the various ebook readers will continue to be incompatible with each other.
  7. Sarah Palin won’t go away.
  8. TSA flight restrictions will cause the airline industry to lose money.
  9. And, of course, the weather will continue to be remarkable, which will still not mean anything to denialists.
  10. Kat and I will still not fight.

I know, many predictions are just “things won’t change” – but they should change, and I’ll be happy if I’m wrong about them. We’ll see how that goes.

Apple Blue Beer

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 31 Dec 2009 @ 07:06 PM

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 31 Dec 2009 @ 11:59 AM 

One year ago, I made a series of 10 predictions for the new year.  Let’s see how I did.

  1. The right wing noise machine did find new and interesting ways to make themselves look silly while calling the new president a socialist, a communist, a nazi, and a racist – all at the same time. If President Obama were on fire, the GOP would call fire departments a socialist plot, as John Scalzi wrote this week.
  2. Windows 7 did not save the computer industry.
  3. Netbooks were a bit easier to find than I feared, so there’s one point against me. To be fair, the good netbooks were harder to get hold of, so maybe half a point.
  4. Yep, suck.
  5. No single sign-on system of any note, although Facebook is getting a lot of headway into “sign in with Facebook” on various sites.  Maybe we’ll count this as half and half.
  6. No crypto.
  7. DTV changeover was, although delayed yet again until June of 2009, not a crazy display of incompetence and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Got this one wrong.
  8. Politicians continued to line their pockets by picking ours, and gave as much largesse to their corporate overlords as possible. Sadly, I got this one right.
  9. Weather was much remarked upon. Denialists continued to deny reality. Climatologists turned out to sometimes be jerks, but that overshadowed that the science continues to be reinforced with evidence.
  10. Kit dropped me from her “LJ Friends” list after 9 years (no idea why), so I have no idea how amusing she is.

Let’s see, that gives me 6 of 10 completely right, 2 partly right, one completely wrong, and one I can no longer assess, so I can’t use it for any statistics. We’ll call it 7-2 or 78% accurate. I’m sure that beats all the “psychics” out there.  Now, what shall I predict for 2010? Stay tuned.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 31 Dec 2009 @ 12:08 PM

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 19 Dec 2009 @ 10:07 PM 

Why did I just see Deepak Chopra, a licensed physician who spends most of his time promulgating disproven medical treatments, speaking on economics during a CNN special?  What the…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 19 Dec 2009 @ 10:07 PM

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 10 Dec 2009 @ 7:03 AM 

Apparently Congress doesn’t have anything useful to do, so a subcommittee found time to debate whether the NCAA can call someone a “National Champion” if they haven’t gone through an elimination-style playoff.  Really?  This is something which is so important that the United States Congress must intervene?  People are stupid.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 Dec 2009 @ 07:03 AM

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