The truth really does hurt

On one hand I can see why people are upset. However, it is kind of funny in a weird, sick way. Some people had a different view:
Kim Koster heard about it and brought her camera. "It's like putting Christmas lights up on your FEMA trailer. It just makes you feel better," said the New Orleans resident, whose home was flooded.
As children rode by on a motorized train that circled the display, Ray Smith and his wife, Marcia, chuckled at the "Caution -- Operates Only in Good Weather" sign next to a model of a Jefferson Parish pumping station. It was a wry reference to a decision by Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard to evacuate pump operators before Katrina hit on August 29, inundating the area.


Why meat is good for you (I)

What better than Thanksgiving week to remind some of our readers and contributors about the value of meat and hopefully, as implied by the Roman numeral in the post title, kick off a continuing segment on paci.blog.

From today's Best of the Web:
Meat saves lives, too, as the Chicago Tribune reports:

Mark Copsy saw the smoke inside the car, and watched as the vehicle careered into a curb in Northlake on Sunday afternoon. It took him only a moment to realize the horror--the car was on fire, and there were people inside. Copsy and his 12-year-old son ran the half-block to help.

When they got to the car, Copsy, 42, said he couldn't open the door. Inside, he could see an elderly man in the driver's seat. A female passenger sat next to him, her face white. He tried to smash the glass with his foot, but couldn't do it. In his hands, he held a 20-pound frozen Norbest turkey he and his son had just bought for Thanksgiving.

"I said, 'Hell, I'll just use the damn turkey.' And that's what I did," Copsy said. He yelled for the driver to cover his face, and used the turkey to smash out three windows.

Just try doing that with tofu!

Scotch® Tape Stymies Sony Copy Protection

It's nice to see that such hi-tech copy-protection, er, Digital Rights Management, schemes can be thwarted with such low-tech tools as Scotch® Tape. I don't know if the Scotch® Tape solution is higher-tech or lower-tech than the Magic Marker® solution to prior attempts to limit the fair-use of products consumers purchase.

I wonder if this will violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)...

Stupid Sony.

Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for U.S. Pullout

I must admit that when I saw the headline for this article, I immediately thought the the "factions" were the insurgents and had a picture in my mind of these masked gunmen holding a press conference. Twisted? I don't know, but I'm sure Senators Kerry and Kennedy would comply with the insurgents' demands.

(If that isn't dry-ass kindling for a fire, I don't know what else is.)


Austrian Town Gets no Sun, Hires Dr. Evil for Solution

Well, not really, but can't you just see it? Secluded mountain town gets no sun from November through February, large corporations (and the EU) foot most of the bill, genetic experiments ensue? Come on, with quotes like:
"I am sure we will soon help other mountain villages see the light," says Markus Peskoller, Lichtlabor's director.
...how can you tell me that nothing sinister is going on? Don't come crying to me when Austrian zombie mountain men start pillaging your town and eating your loved-ones' brains! Come on, the town is in the shadow of Rat Mountain! Something is amiss. I for one do not welcome our new mirror toting, German speaking, you-are-the-sunshine-of-my-life zombie-making masters.


SNL - Steve Jobs skit

This is a moderately humorous skit from SNL. However, like most SNL skits, it goes on a bit too long.


Fun with Photo Booth

What to do when you're wandering around the mall with the little lady and don't feel like going into Ann Taylor or 9 West? You got it, head for the Apple Store and browse the Internet. However, this time, I decided to post to the blog from the store. Below are some photos that I took with the new application Photo Booth which comes on the new iMac.


Ernie and Me

Cisco buys Scientific Atlanta

Arstechnica has a nice little writeup of Cisco's latest aquisition, Scientific Atlanta. Maybe we will now see cable boxes that have features that geeks and non-geeks can use. Since Cisco is in a buying mood, maybe they should pickup TiVO and integrate its technology into the cable box. Cable boxes will still be needed going forward until every last American replaces their analog-only TVs with CableCard 2.0 TVs which would remove the need for cable boxes in the first place. This is going to be interesting.

I've seen the next generation and WOW!

I was in the Best Buy at the Landmark Center in Kenmore Square last night killing some time before I went to a holiday party. I was roaming the isles looking for something to pique my interest when I rounded a corner and saw a bunch of college-aged guys standing in front of a 52" plasma screen watching the trailer to King Kong. Or so I thought.

These guys were playing, get the official title, Peter Jackson's King Kong for Xbox 360 in HD. Normally I am not terribly impressed by consoles and console games. Some may say that I am, in fact, behind the time. I am. Hell, I just played Halo for the first time. Anyway, the graphics and the motion were beautiful. If I had $399 for the Xbox AND $2,100 for a nice 46" or more DLP AND extra time on my hands, I'd be camping out at Best Buy at 0700 Monday just to have a small hope of landing one.

I also saw a demo of Call of Duty 2 and it too was incredible in HD. If this is what the Xbox 360 will do, I am really wondering what the PS3 will bring. (Also curious as to Nintendo's next offering. What will the next Metroid in HD look like?)

If you would like to see a comparison of what is known about the three new systems, click here for the take of Jon "Hannibal" Stokes from Arstechnica.


Cardinal Warns Parents About Giving Wireless Devices as Christmas Gifts

Cardinal Warns Parents About Giving Wireless Devices as Christmas Gifts -- Beliefnet.com
Actually, it should read "Cardimal Tells Parents to Parent their Children."

Music on my cell phone or "How to Give More Money to Two Industries I Already Give Too Much To"

Walt Mossberg over at The Wall Street Journal has written a review today in his Personal Technology column of the new SprintNextel music store. You need either the paper Journal OR an Online Subscription to read the article, sorry. I will, however, quote extensively...

What I find interesting (in a sad way) is that the music business and the cell phone business just don't get it. They seem to be looking at old economic models and stand in the wasy of technological advancement. Do you make more money selling 100 songs for $2.50 or 500 songs for $0.99?
... Sprint and the record labels have decided to spoil their breakthrough service by setting a stratospheric new price for the legal download of a single song: $2.50. That's 2.5 times the 99 cents that Apple and others charge on their online stores for a better-quality version of the very same song. Right now, Sprint is offering the first five downloads free, but starting with the sixth song, the $2.50-a-song price kicks in. The charges show up on your cellphone bill.

Sprint says its higher price is justified by the convenience factor, the ability to buy a song on the go, when the impulse strikes. The company compares this to paying more than usual for milk at an all-night convenience store, or for hot dogs at a ballpark. Also, Sprint contends, there are many people who find PC-based music stores too hard to use, and they will be willing to pay more for something simpler.

I believe something else is at work here: a lethal combination of two industries many consumers believe typically charge too much. One is the bumbling record industry, which has been seeking to raise prices in the fledgling legal downloading market even as it continues to bleed from free, illegal downloading. The other is the cellphone carriers, or, as I like to call them, "the Soviet ministries," which too often treat their customers as captive and refuse to allow open competition for services they offer over their networks.
Ok, I can sort of understand charging $2.50 for a song because there are some capital costs the need to be recouped AND the record companies need to be paid, but that's not what they're using for justification. They're using the convenience factor argument. However, buying a hot dog at Fenway Park for $3.00 is no a simple convenience, it's necessary if you want to each a hot dog and watch the Red Sox. You can't bring your own. (Though that does bring me back to that Oscar Meyer commercial of the 70's where the father pulls a hot dog on a bun out of his briefcase and hands it to his son. Let's have a weiner roast, you don't have to build a fire, all you need is Oscar Meyer...)

Anyone else wnat to comment on the stupid statement that a cell phone based music store is easier to use or simpler than a computer based store like, I don't know, ITMS? I know there are other stores out there whose interfaces aren't as good as the one iTunes has, but really, how bad of a designer do you have to be to lose out to a cell phone? I just don't buy it. If you can't figure out how to use a music store on a computer, I really don't think you have the cognitive skills to use one on a cell phone much less buy the right phone and purchase the right service. I don't think there's much of a "dumb people" market for Sprint|Nextel to tap into. Then again, people do pay $2.99 for ringtones, which are, for all intents and purposes, parts of songs.

Also, if you want that song you just downloaded onto your cell phone on your computer? You need to download it again (no extra charge!!) ON YOUR COMPUTER which was too difficult for you to use in the first place. Hmmm. Your're dumb, just dumb enough to buy our crap!
The high costs don't stop there. The new music store can be accessed -- so far -- on only two new high-end phones, from Sanyo and Samsung, which cost more than $200, even after rebates. Even then, if you want to store more than about 32 songs on your phone, you'll have to spring for a larger memory card, which costs anywhere from $25 to $100. You have to pay at least $15 a month for a data plan that allows you just to access the music store, though you also get other services.
I really don't think I will be buying one of these phones. Besides, I am an online music success story! I've purchased more music from iTunes in the past year than I had CDs or Vinyl in my life. I'm saving the record labels tons of money on distribution. They should thank me.

Now get out of my pocket.


The Intelligent Designer

I'll break with my standard practice of linkblogging to spit out something that's been bugging me for a while: Intelligent Design.

Let's look at the question: "Is the state of the natural world, in particular the existence of human beings, the result of intelligent design?". This is equivalent to "... the work of an Intelligent Designer." So far, so good, and it's all neutral inquiry.

Now we come to a fork in the road: is this Intelligent Designer part of the natural world, or not? That is, is the Intelligent Designer natural, or supernatural?

If the answer is "supernatural," then we're not doing science anymore. Go directly to theology class, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred more freaking signatures.

If the answer is "natural," then we have to ask a whole bunch more questions about the nature of the Intelligent Designer, starting with, "Dude, what's up with the human appendix?" and moving on inexorably to "Wait, if the Intelligent Designer is a natural being, then he's bound by all the laws of nature, just like us, and, uh, where exactly did he come from?"

You can now choose again from "supernatural" and "natural"; if you finish at all, you finish on "supernatural", and we can dump all this putatively "scientific inquiry" back over on the Humanities side of the fence where it belongs.


Yo, Adrian! I got WiFi !

Was strolling through Philly today and came across this story in the newspaper boxes. (You don't necessarily find everything first on the web).

Wi-Fi highway is uncertain route for several cities

It's about the city's plan to provide WiFi to its residents, which I think is a dubious idea given the town's record of disposing (or not, when they have garbage strikes) of taxpayer dollars.

Here's a couple points of the piece to ponder:

Will the initiative help reduce the digital divide?
Getting more low-income people online is one of the primary objectives behind what Philadelphia is doing. According to Neff, about 42 percent of the city's population now has no Internet access.

In the effort to get the number down to 20 percent in five years, EarthLink is expected to offer rates of $10 a month for low-income users ("low-income" has yet to be defined), as opposed to a standard rate of $20. That rate already is offered in about one-third of the city by Closed Networks Inc., a local company.

Those prices are lower than cable, comparable to dial-up and some DSL rates. (In San Francisco, Google has proposed providing free citywide wireless for everyone.)
But the current cost of Internet service - and its unavailability in some pockets of the city - may not be the biggest obstacles to expanding access; 36 percent of Philadelphians don't have computers.

Wireless Philadelphia plans to use revenues from EarthLink and other sources to help bring computers and computer-training to the poor.

"If the prime focus here was really broadband access for impoverished residents, there are other, simpler ways to go about it," said Ellen Daley, an analyst for Forrester Research, an independent, Massachusetts-based company that studies the business of technology. "You might target subsidies to the poor through the existing providers."

Is the plan realistic, economically and technically?
Berryman says that he's confident that EarthLink will be able to make money. But Michael J. Balhoff, a Maryland-based consultant whose research has been financed by established Internet service providers, says the numbers don't add up.
He and other experts say that EarthLink also is underestimating the difficulties of covering a vast, urban area and the cost of operating and maintaining the system. The vast majority of signal boxes will be on utility poles, exposed to weather and vandals.

If it all goes wrong, they may need Rocky to devise a lower tech mass broadband scheme the way he did his own phone system:

Yo, Paulie -- Ya sister's with me! I'll call ya later.

New and nifty web statistics

In the sidebar at the bottom you should see a new icon with the hit count for this page. It's a freebee from a company called Sitemeter. Click on the icon to see detailed statistics on traffic to this page. Right now there are a total of 4 records there. It will be interesting to see how many people actually find their way here.


Silly String in Iraq

Maybe showering 80s kids with all those toys worked out well after all. Last year, they used remote controls from toy cars to prematurely trigger IEDs; now it seems Silly String (which even I let my kids play with) has a military use.

No word yet on whether Raytheon is tendering an offer for Toys [Russian vowel yoo] Us.


It's Math Riddle Monday!

No really, it is. I'm not kidding.
Here is this Monday's question:
You're in a dark room with 50 quarters, 18 of which are heads up. You are allowed to move around the coins or flip some or all of them, if you wish. Problem is, it's too dark to tell what you're moving or flipping (no, you can't figure it out by touch either). Your job is to split the coins into two groups, each of which has the same number of heads up coins. How do you accomplish this?
Post your answers in the comments field. I will post the correct answer when I figure it out.

Note to George: This is the question I called you about on Saturday. Thanks for calling me back after "a few minutes."


The Shape of Days

I don't know what's going on over at The Shape of Days, but there's a timer counting down to sometime on 11/9/2005.
It's a good site, you should try and find some time to look through his posts. Some are political in nature and some are just strange. I hope he gets back soon as I have already read the Internet in English. Next I think I'll try Esperanto.

The house is done

I forgot to post the latest picture of my house. As you can see it has been completed. It's amazing what new siding and new windows can do to a house!


We went from drafty, crappy vinyl replacements to new Ultimate Double Hung windows by Marvin. The difference is amazing -- they're bigger, quieter, and a lot better looking. The siding is a vinyl shingle called Cedar Impressions by Certainteed that looks like stained cedar. Well worth the time, money, and effort to have this done.

Man Sticks to Toilet, Sues Home Depot

CNN.com - Glued to toilet, man sues Home Depot - Nov 3, 2005
Fist of all, the CNN headline makes you think that the man is suing Home Depot while glued to a toilet. That would be kind of amusing to see, don't you think?
However, the lesson to learn here is that because of stuff like this, you don't take dumps at Home Depot -- liquid nails on the seat is MUCH worse than Saran Wrap over the bowl. Sometimes, though, you've got to go -- I've been there. However, who the hell doesn't notice GLUE on a toilet seat? Who doesn't at least wipe a foreign seat down with TP before sitting? He's suing Home Depot because they ignored him for 15 minutes, NOT because they let someone apply glue to a toilet seat in their store. I'd be suing the guy who put the glue on the toilet or at least applying glue to his door locks and windshield wipers.
This reminds me of Freshmen Year at college where I would torment my friend Shem's roommate Brian (who later I became friends with) by gluing most anything he owned to his desk, the ceiling, the window, him. Boy, those were the days.

In other news, I think I have finally finished tweaking the site. Let me know what you think.



I need a little Web Developer help here...

For some reason or another the sidebar wants to render below the main section of the blog. I don't know why IE6 does this, nor do I care. (Actually, I do care.) Firefox on Mac and Windows looks fine. Safari on the Mac looks fine. However, IE6 doesn't and I need help. As you can see from the design of this blog, my design skills are a bit limited and I've been away from HTML for so long it all looks Greek to me.
This is a call out to all of the young HTML/CSS Jedi out there to help me out.


9:30 AM: [****Never Mind. I got some help and the issue has been resolved.****]