Archive for December, 2005

 

Year End Review

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

I was going to write an essay on the whole NSA brouhaha but I don’t have time before the new year, not with the computer problems and all. So I figure I’ll jump right to the year end round-up, the best that the samaBlog has had to offer you all over the past 12 months. So in no particular order:

Last year I was being inundated with comment spam to such a degree that I considered closing comments down permanently. In the midst of all of this, Lunar Pages, my host at the time, made the absurd claim that the php in WordPress was causing their servers to slow down, and I had to either upgrade my service or move my host. I documented the ordeal here, and successfully moved the blog with the help of a certain IT god.

Not that online quizzes belong in a best-of roundup, but the similarity between these two quizzes here and here is rather astounding (or maybe not).

I wrote a bit on bankruptcy reform that’s worth noting. More here.

One of my best writings on the samaBlog is The Fault Line in American Politics. If you are at all confused about my perspective on politics, you should read that essay. More here. And here.

An SMU professor included the samaBlog in a course this year. W00T!

I gave Ted Olson a good spanking on his P2P op-ed in the WSJ.

Not that it’s likely to happen, but I speculated on what might occur to the Boston Real Estate market should the Big Dig collapse.

I had some thoughts on St Patrick’s Day.

I got linked to by Volokh for my thoughts on political imbalances on campuses today.

I did some P2P mining for SS#’s.

On April 3rd, the Pope passed away. On April 7th I took the initiative and declared myself Interim Pope. In the ensuing days, I issued papal proclamations and indulgences here, here, here, here, and here. On April 19, a new Pope was selected, and I resigned my Interim Papacy.

I wrote a bit on Sarbanes Oxley. More here.

I took Jonah Goldberg to task for his take on Sesame Street.

This year we had a 5/5/05. I marked the occasion.

For some reason, this little image of a guy lighting himself on fire while doing a flaming shot got a lot of attention.

This year marked the emergence of my west coast correspondents, Von and Calzone. They covered the Michael Jackson trial for the samaBlog here, here and here. View pictures here.

I developed some ideas for making money off of role-playing games, including a radio show and a vacation getaway plan.

I railed against the Grockster decision.

Perhaps my best writing of the year was my take on the Kelo decision. Read Remember The West End.

Joe Doyle went to jail, for those of you following the case. More here.

There was some interest in the veal head I posted.

My thoughts on Apple and Microsoft got some attention.

I wrote a sarcastic letter to Armstrong Williams.

I likened Harriet Miers to Pamela Harriman. Ouch.

I snapped a pretty incredible rainbow pic with my cameraphone.

I hosted the Carnival of the Capitalists.

I took George Will to task for his column on HDTV.

I described the difference between Ethics and Morality.

Al Frankenstein.

I likened the Scooter Libby indictment to the case against Martha Stewart.

And I wrote about the War on Christmas.

If I’m missing any of your favorites, lemme know. And in the meantime, you all have a safe and Happy New Year. Catch you all in 2006.

 
 

Real Genius

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

So I just came back from an unsuccessful attempt at getting someone at the Apple store to pay some goddamned attention to me.

I went there (the one in Burlington, MA) because my laptop hard drive, which is onle 1 1/2 years old, appears to have crapped the bed this morning, and I needed a serious technician to take a look at it. I went up about 15 minutes before lunch time, figuring I might be able to beat the lunch crowd. Unfortunately, the mall was jammed, which just added ot my misery. So anyway…

I make it into the Apple store and try to get the attention of one of their “geniuses”. I manage to get a guy who’s just finished doing something on some computer behind the counter, and I ask him if I can drop my laptop off, because I have to get back to work. He tells me he doesn’t know, that he’s an off-duty tehnician, and therefore, can’t help me. But tells me to sign in for an appointment using the concierge program on one of the machines in the store. He tells me that maybe one of the people behind the counter can help me with the dropoff situation.

So I go to sign in for an appointment, and the nearest one is in THREE HOURS TIME!!! So I drop my name in the hat, and wait around, again, for someone to pay attention to me so I can drop my machine off with them. During this time, the counter is being monopolized by middle aged women, some with their children, most not. All of them, are HAVING TROUBLE WITH THEIR IPODS!!!!!

IPODS!!!

I kid you not. If you take two synapses and rub them together, you get a spark. But grown women with a gallon of synapses packed unto a cranium seemingly can’t generate smoke. How hard is it to figure out how to use an iPod? How difficult is it for them to find a teenager to show them? WHY IN THE WORLD WAS I LEFT WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO TALK TO WHILE A TECHNICAL SUPPORT “GENIUS” PUT AN IPOD SKIN ON AN IPOD FOR A CUSTOMER????

Here’s the real issue. When I signed in on the Concierge program, they offered no field where you could tell them what’s wrong. No heckbox to tell them what product needed servicing. It was first come, first serve, and you tell them your issue when you get there. That is absolutely no way to plan workflow. What they should do (at a minimum) is have one queue for iPod related idiocy, where non-technicians help tech people how to use iPods, and another where technicians help those with known computer problems. The way they have it set up now leaves me, a committed Apple customer who has spend over $2k with them in the past year, out in the cold with a serious problem. They need a dropoff window as well, for those customers who can’t sit around for three hours waiting.

So I have an appointment with them for 3:15pm today. I don’t think I’m going to fight my way back into the mall to get there. Instead, there’s a mom and pop computer store down the street from me, and they can handle macs as well as pcs. They may cost me more, or I may have to wait for a part to be ordered, but at least I know they’ll give a shit.

 
 

Redneck Surfing

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

This should be an olympic sport.

Behold: REDNECK SURFING!

(via cruel)

 
 

Bass Sax

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

It’s not every day that a new type of saxaphone is invented:

Over 150 years after Adolphe Sax patented the “Saxophone Bourdon,” someone has finally built a real working Bb subcontrabass saxophone.

There have been attempts to make a real and playable saxophone deeper than the contrabass, but none have ever come to fruition until now. This time it’s for real, and it has resulted in an incredibly rich and completely new tone color at the extreme low end of the musical spectrum!

Looks neat. Check it out here.

 
 

Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

I’ve always enjoyed cheese as a late night snack. Apparently, I had good reason to:

The age old myth that cheese gives you nightmares has finally been laid to rest this week following the release of a new study carried out by the British Cheese Board.

The in-depth Cheese & Dreams study, a first of its kind, reveals that eating cheese before bed will not only aid a good night’s sleep but different cheeses will in fact cause different types of dreams.

Of the 200 volunteers who participated in the week-long study, 72% slept well every night, 67% remembered their dreams and none recorded experiencing nightmares after eating a 20g piece of cheese half an hour before going to sleep.

Apparently, different varieties of cheese produce different types of dreams as well. Who knew?

Behold, the power of cheese.

 
 

Alternative Forms Of Governance

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

I have long theorized about alternative forms of governance, forms which were not considered by Aristotle in his famous book on the subject. One such form I’ve wondered about is the theoretical “Lesbiocracy”, or rule by an elite group of lesbians. It is conceivable that such a form of government once existed, on the ancient isle of Lesbos, assuming that the tales of the island have some grain of truth to them.

Another alternative form of government I’ve long considered is the theoretical “Midgetocracy”, or rule by an elite group of midgets. I’ve always imagined such a government to work in a manner akin to the Buddhist monestaries of Tibet, where when word of a midget birth reaches the monastery, the monks whisk the child away, to be raised in the traditions of the monastic order.

Well, apparently, the idea of a midgetocracy has some historic precedent as well, in ancient Egypt:

Short stature didn’t prevent dwarves in ancient Egyptian culture from attaining high positions in society. Some served as assistants to the pharaoh, while others were looked up to as gods.

Chahira Kozma, a pediatrician at Georgetown University, examined remains and depictions of dwarves in ancient Egypt and concluded they were respected and that their disorder was not seen as a physical handicap.[...]

In the ancient necropolises of Giza and Saqqara, dwarves hailing from various professions were depicted on at least 50 tombs. They included jewelry makers, animal or pet handlers, fishermen, entertainers and dancers, nurses and midwives. Some held more important positions.

“There were several elite dwarves, who worked for the pharaohs and had lavish burials,” Kozma told LiveScience.

Nice. Guess there really is no such thing as an original idea.

Read more here.

(via Fark)

 
 

Wearing Sunglasses At The Movies

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

I have recently been reviewing my blog entries for 2005 with an eye towards putting together a year end “best of” piece. And in doing so, I realized I hadn’t dumped on a celebrity in over a year. Previously, I had dumped on Paris Hilton and the Rich Girls pretty good, so I IM’d my buddy Wordman, proprietor of the blog Asteroid, and he suggested I take on Jack Black.

This led to a discussion of King Kong, which I explained that I hadn’t seen, because I generally don’t go to the movies anymore because they don’t properly illuminate the screen. Wordman hadn’t heard of this issue before, so I figured I’d blog about it, and find an article that explained:

But the central issue is bulb wattage. Using less powerful bulbs cuts costs. The bulbs, long xenon arc lamps, aren’t cheap, and their life is quickly consumed when used for five screenings a day. A single 3,000-watt bulb goes for about $550 and lasts about 1,000 hours, which means a bulb needs to be replaced about twice a year per auditorium. A 4,000-watt bulb runs about $800 and lasts about 800 hours.

Slashing overhead is why Cinemark mandated that Tinseltown in Pflugerville downgrade bulbs in 16 of its 20 auditoriums from 4,200 watts to 3,000 watts, according to a former Tinseltown projectionist who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They said it was to save money. The smaller bulbs cost less and last longer, so it was economically smart,” says the former employee, who noticed that the image on those screens looked “a third dimmer” than they had been. “I look at the whites. If the whites are not bright, then the bulb is too dim.”

You can read the whole article here. Basically, I used to go to the theater only when a movie had lots of special effects that wouldn’t look as good on the small screen. But TVs are getting better, and frankly, theaters have gotten worse. I suppose if I knew up front that a theater was properly lit, I’d consider going again. But why should I go to see King Kong if all the nighttime scenes are hard to see because the theater owner has decided to skimp on the lightbulb in the projector?

It’s just not worth it to me.

 
 

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

It was roughly two millennia ago, around the time of Christ, when the third emperor of Rome did as all emperors of Rome were expected to do. Gaius Caesar raised an army and proceeded to march north, through Gaul, to conquer an island nation many miles from Rome. But when Gaius Caesar reached the banks of the English Channel, he instructed his armies not to cross it, but to scour the beaches for seashells, and to bring all the shells they could find straight to him. And his armies followed his instructions. With tons of seashells in tow, Gaius Ceasar returned to Rome, explaining to his people that he had achieved victory in his war with Neptune. And Rome celebrated.

And so it is with our so-called “War on Christmas,” whose counter-attack began with the launch of this book. Never in all my years have I witnessed anything so ridiculous, as people refusing to shop at places because store employees wish them a “Happy Holidays” or a “Season’s Greetings” instead of a Merry Christmas. As if insisting on Merry Christmas were a serious stand.

Of course, there is no “War on Christmas.” Oh, there have been attacks on Christmas festivities to be sure; leftist killjoys feigning offense at a holiday celebrating American abundance with a vague connection to Christianity. But Christmas is not a specific battlefield. Rather, our culture at large has been under attack for years now. Rugged individualism, capitalism, material wealth, all have been undermined for quite some time. If Christmas appears to be on the wane, it’s because the culture at large has been on the wane, because we have been all too accommodating to those who would at best have us emulating the European socialist model and at worst living in mud huts worshipping Gaia.

So in a world where (just thinking off the top of my head now) Islamic psychopaths want to kill us, Iran is close to acquiring the bomb, is threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and the US has nothing to say or do about it, in a world where islamic militants are waging war inside our own country using sabotage as their primary weapon and we cannot seem to gather the collective political will to make our porous southern border secure, in a world where the world’s largest auto manufacturer is about to go bankrupt in large measure due to unfunded ( and arguably unfundable) health and pension benefits and where the federal government seems incapable of deriving lessons about its own unfunded (and largely unfundable) pension and health care obligations, in such a world, the place where we decide to take a stand is on the use of “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas”???

WHAT?????

If you choose to make your stand on the periphery of the battlefield, you by default cede the larger portion of the field to the enemy. So as Bill Clinton railed against cigarette smoking, he ceded much larger issues, like welfare reform, to the Republicans. Wasting time on this kind of thing is dangerous in light of the serious and immediate problems this country faces, and the tendency of this president to avoid a political fight at all costs. We were handed McCain Feingold, education reform, prescription drug nonsense and Harriet Miers by this White House, afraid of a political fight. So now we’re going to spend time worrying about yultide semantics? Please.

While the third emperor of Rome collected seashells, the fifth famously fiddled while Rome burned. Let us hope we can get our bearings straight before Washington suffers a similar fate.

RELATED:
Living Unseriously
September 10 America
Back to September 10

ASIDES:
If you think that writing about Caligula on Christmas Eve is strange, check out what’s on Asteroid’s mind this holiday season.
Here’s an alternative interpretation of putting the Christ back in Christmas.
Snopes of course debunks Christmas superstitions.
Essay on the Christmas Hoax.
It’s a Holiday in Cambodia now!
My favorite is the BK Holiday!

Previous Christmas Musings:
2004 (I guess I had nothing to say)
2003

 
 

Sue Google

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

So I uploaded this video to Google Video some time back, mostly as an experiment to see what Google was up to and see what they’d do with my video. You can see for yourself by clicking.

Anyhow, I wake up this morning to find this letter in my mailbox (emphasis mine):

Hello,

Thanks for your continued participation in the Google Video Upload Program.
Over the past few months, Google Video has launched several new innovative
features:

- A flash-based video player
- A brand new home page (http://video.google.com/)
- A larger format playback/viewing window with standard user controls
- “More videos” tab on playback page along with “Related” and “Popular”
videos links
- A Send link so fans of your video can send it to their friends
- A new video blog (http://googlevideo.blogspot.com/)

And there is still a lot more to come! We have made some minor modifications to
our Terms of Service (TOS). We would like to ask you to take a moment to
review the changes by logging into your account at
https://upload.video.google.com and accepting the new terms and conditions.
If you do not login and agree to the new TOS, we will assume you acknowledge
and accept the changes and your content will remain on Google Video.

We encourage you to upload more of your great content as Google Video continues
to launch new innovative functionality. The best is yet to come!

Happy holidays and warm regards,

The Google Video Team

Ahh. Well how nice of them to feel that they can change their terms of service without first getting permission from copyright holders who uploaded their videos under different terms of service. Not to worry though, they’re only minor changes, right? And I’m sure that everyone who uploaded a video managed to get and read this email too, right?

Anyone want to file a class action against Google?

UPDATE: I’m copying the entirety of the TOS below the fold just for record keeping sake.
(more…)

 
 

Speaking of Evil

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005
Greed: High
 
Gluttony: Very High
 
Wrath: High
 
Sloth: Medium
 
Envy: Medium
 
Lust: Very High
 
Pride: Medium
 

Discover Your Sins – Click Here

(via J-Walk)