Archive for February, 2010

 

Question

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

So this Orca whale killed his trainer at Sea World, in front of a crowd of guests, while performing a show. So let’s say an audience member was armed, and unloaded his weapon into the whale, killing it, sparing the life of the trainer.

Would said guest be charged with a crime?

 
 

Bento Boob

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

So my wife and I are considering buying bento boxes to pack lunches with us for work. It’s part of an effort to save money and eat better. In any event, we’ve been looking at the Zojirushi Bento Boxes on Amazon, which look really nice. I’ve been looking at the Mr. Bento box, for which it turns out, there is a Flickr photo group where enthusiasts post photos of their amateur bento creations. Most of them are rather ordinary lunches, though occasionally you get something that looks like a true work of art. But even the ordinary lunches are noteworthy for their attempt at doing some honest culinary artistry, for attempting to emulate the Japanese bento tradition to the best of their abilities.

One poster, though, seems to be, well, I’m not even sure how to put it in one word. Her bento boxes seem to be an utter misunderstanding of what bento is supposed to be all about. It’s reminiscent of a cargo cult, where this woman had a bento box land in her backyard, and proceeded to stuff it with things that do not qualify as artistry, good food, or even home cooking. Let’s peruse a few of her boxes.

I’m just providing links because the photos are not licensed under creative commons.

I’m going to start with a bento box that DorothySH apparently packed for her husband. Let’s begin by stating unequivocally that McDonalds pies do NOT belong anywhere near a bento box. But honestly, that pales in comparison to a nauseating looking bowl of ham salad which appears to come from a can. Of course, a side of spicy pork rinds is included. At least she packed a pear for something healthy.

Here’s an exciting gross lunch featuring wilted lettuce that’s turning brown, McDonald’s BBQ Sauce, factory made chicken nuggets, Baybel cheese, and most amazingly, a Hello Kitty salad dressing container. I think I find the Hello Kitty accessories that appear in many of her photos to be the most disturbing of all. She obviously isn’t completely unaware of Japanese culture. It can’t be that she just picked up a bento box figuring it was a neat-o lunchbox. Could she?

Let’s continue. Today’s meal consists of an English muffin, a grotesque unidentifiable blob that is apparently meat loaf, a red potato, some sort of Jello fruit cup, and white bread wrapped in cellophane. This is accompanied by a pack of Smucker’s jelly, two packages of McDonald’s ketchup, two packages of sweet relish, and unbelievably, three whole packages of something from KFC called, “Buttery Spread“. I shudder to think what might be contained in a package labeled, “Buttery Spread“, regardless of which one has to imagine that surely the diner in question could make do with fewer than three packages of the stuff.

There’s more you can flip through, a lot more. I began to wonder if maybe this woman wasn’t playing some sort of joke, putting together intentionally bad bento boxes in order to get reactions out of people. But she’s a prolific poster, and not all of her boxes look inedible. And even stranger is that the comments aren’t even negative. I think she’s for real.

Maybe I should buy her a cookbook on making bento boxes.

UPDATE: Dorothy is claiming that I’m not approving comments on this post. All comments have been approved and will continue to be, including the class act below who called me a felcher. Classy friends you got there Dorothy.

 
 

Another Letter Regarding Storrow Drive

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Sent this to my representative again. Hopefully we can get something done about this:

Representative,

It’s been six months since I first wrote to you regarding the changes made to Storrow Drive. It is still a backed up and gnarled mess. The right hand lane is a parking lot all the way back past the Fiedler bridge every night and at the Fenway exits, lots of people cut in randomly rather than wait in the long lone, which is incredibly dangerous. Taxis seem to be the worst offenders, but regardless of who’s doing it, it’s dangerous and causes the right lane to get further backed up.

The DCR told you they would have this under review for six months, and you thought that was a long time to wait. You said you would ask some hard questions. On October 27, you told me they would be adding new signage and paint to get people to switch over earlier. You also said:

Clearly, it’s not working by any reasonable criteria. I think the question is how long should the engineers be permitted to play with it.

I’ll be looking for a more formal response — so for it has all been informal.

So given that the DCR’s own timeline to make this work within 6 months is up, what is the next step?

I should also point out that in the DCR’s own public presentations asking for money to revamp Storrow Drive, this lane change was NEVER included for public review. See here [PDF]. It seems that they just did this without seeking legislative approval from those who use Storrow Drive on a daily basis. People buy houses and decide where to live based on their understanding of traffic and how the roads works. That is why these things are normally given a full public airing and disclosed well in advance of their implementation. That fact that this wasn’t just makes the change all the more offensive.

Thank you for your continued attention to this matter. I should tell you that being in touch with other citizens who are upset about this, citizens from other legislative districts, I really do appreciate the personal response you’ve given this matter.

All the best,

-Rob Sama

 
 

7 Years Ago

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Wow, it’s depressing to count down the years. I’m turning into some kind of fogey.

So it was 7 years ago today that the samaBlog was born. I have no idea whether or not all of this was worth it or just a colossal waste of time. Probably the latter.

 
 

Cowardice

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Cowardice, in general terms, is the perceived failure to demonstrate sufficient robustness in the face of a challenging situation. … wikipedia

I’m not even sure where to begin here. I’m just going to go stream of consciousness. A hit and run is when someone operating a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian with his car, and then flees the scene. The hit and run driver may have intended to hit the pedestrian, or it may have been accidental. But what unites all hit and run drivers is their cowardice; their fear of being held to account, of being made to stand in judgment for what they have done.

So too does our political class, exhibit much the same traits. Except with the political class the hit is almost always intentional. It’s just that most hits don’t get noticed. They’re narrowly focuses hits, designed to harm one unfavored group to support a crony. Most people don’t even notice it happening. And so when re-election time rolls around, the politician is not made to answer for anything he has done. The people vote to re-elect because he’s that nice, familiar, handsome face they’ve known for so long.

It’s only when the politician tries a hit on EVERYONE that the people wake up, take notice, and realize what’s been going on. It is then that scrutiny is applied to the politician, and that the people realize what rotten, thieving scumbags their elected class is filled with. It is then that they are motivated to pass judgment upon, to condemn, to send packing their elected leaders.

And of course, it is precisely at such a time, that the coward announces his retirement.

With the passage of the stimulus package, the purchase of General Motors, the attempted takeover of our health care industry, today’s political class has attempted the equivalent of not hitting a single pedestrian crossing the street, but plowing through a schoolyard full of playing children. They know they’ve been spotted behind the wheel, and that their constituents thirst justice. But they choose to drive off into the sunset. They dare not stand in judgment for what they have wrought.

And so it is time to call the cowards out, one by one, and pronounce judgment upon them here, in the public square of the Internet. For if we are denied the opportunity to show them the door, then the least we can do is verbally tar and feather the bastards while they happily show themselves the door.


Chris Dodd, CT


You, sir, are a thieving corrupt scumbag who is more responsible for our current economic predicament than anyone else on this list. That you, of all people, should choose not to run for re-election is an act of cowardice in the extreme. And to think you thought you were presidential material… I AM CALLING YOU OUT AS A COWARD!


Byron Dorgan, ND


YOU ARE A SPINELESS SNIVELING COWARD!!! THAT SENATE HEALTHCARE BILL IS ALL YOURS! RUN FOR RE-ELECTION AND ANSWER FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE!!!


Roland Burris, IL


YOU’RE NOT A REAL SENATOR!!! YOU’RE A SEAT WARMER, BUT THAT DIDN’T STOP YOU FROM VOTING FOR THAT ATROCITY OF A HEALTH CARE BILL!!! STAND FORTH AND BE JUDGED, YOU COWARD!!!!!


Ted Kaufman/Beau Biden, DE


YOU TWO DISGUST ME!!! KAUFMAN, YOU TOO ARE A SEAT WARMER, YOU LOSER!!! AND BIDEN, YOU DECIDED TO NOT RUN FOR RE-ELECTION BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN ELECTED!!! THAT’S A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF COWARDICE!!! STAND FORTH AND BE JUDGED ON THE HEALTHCARE ATROCITY THE TWO OF YOU SUPPORT!!!


Evan Bayh, IN


YOU ARE A DANDY BOY COWARD!!! YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD RUN FOR PRESIDENT BECAUSE YOU’RE GOOD LOOKING LIKE JOHN EDWARDS!!! WELL YOU’RE A COWARD LIKE HIM TOO!!! STAND FORTH AND BE JUDGED ON THE HEALTHCARE BILL YOU WEASELLY FRIGGING COWARD!!!


William Delahunt, MA, Venezuela


YOU FUCKING DISGUSTING SCUMBAG, PALLING AROUND WITH THAT THUG IN VENEZUELA (PELOSI’S WORDS, NOT MINE)!!! YOU’RE SCARED SHITLESS NOW THAT SCOTT BROWN GOT ELECTED, AND YOU SHOULD BE!!! YOU SUED YOUR WAY INTO “WINNING” YOUR FIRST CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY, YOU VACATION IN SWINGER’S RESORTS, AND YOU LET MURDERERS LOOSE SO THEY COULD KILL AGAIN! EVERYONE IS WATCHING NOW, AND THEY KNOW WHAT KIND OF A SCUMBAG YOU ARE, SO STAND FORTH AND BE JUDGED, YOU COWARD!!!!!


Patrick “Patches” Kennedy, RI


YOU DRUNK FUCKING DOUCHEBAG!!! HOW DARE YOU CALL SCOTT BROWN’S ELECTION A JOKE!!! THE ONLY JOKE I SEE IS YOU EVER HAVING BEEN TREATED SERIOUSLY AS A HUMAN BEING, LET ALONE A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!!! YOU TOO, ARE SCARED OF SCOTT BROWN, AS WELL YOU SHOULD BE! STAND FORTH AND BE JUDGED YOU SLIMY ALCOHOLIC COWARD!!!!!


Bart Gordon, TN


YOU, SIR, ARE A GOOFY LOOKING COWARD!!!


John Tanner, TN


COWARD!!!


Brian Baird, WA


YOU MAY HAVE BEEN GIVEN A PASS ON VOTING FOR THE HEALTHCARE BILL BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULDN’T BE JUDGED, YOU COWARD!!!


Dennis Moore, KS


WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS??? IT’S REPRESENTATIVE DENIS MOORE, YOU COWARD!!!


Diane Watson, CA


COWARD!!!


Vic Snyder, AR


YOU LOOK LIKE ROB ENDERLE OR SOME SLEAZY USED CAR SALESMAN!!! YOU ARE A COWARD!!!


Marion Berry, AR


HEALTH PROBLEMS MY ASS!!! TELL IT TO BOB BYRD!!! THE ONLY HEALTH PROBLEM YOU HAVE IS THAT STUPID HEALTHCARE BILL YOUR PARTY LEADERSHIP WANTS YOU TO PASS, YOU COWARD!!!

Wow, am I angry or what? I actually think this commenter at Gateway Pundit hit the nail on the head:

They are trying to make the anti-incumbent sentiment dissipate. Cant let the message be lost, “no matter what democrat it is, they suck!!”

Sing it loud, brother!

UPDATE: Forgot to mention, I’m already taking bets on whether or not Obama is a coward

UPDATE 2: Apparently, Mikulski is next.

UPDATE 3: Now it’s Stupak and maybe Barney Frank. Cowards all.

 
 

My New Favorite Music Video

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

This is my new favorite music video. It has everything that makes a music video worth watching. I recommend watching again and again and again. I will be.

 
 

Hope & Change

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

So by electing a new President, who prostrated himself in front of a Saudi Monarch, offered to hold unconditional talks with the theocracy in Iran, told the Israelis to stop all settlement expansion, and apologized for everything the United States has ever done in Cairo, the muslim world likes us, right?

Of course not. Today Iran announced they are a nuclear state. But sometimes, pictures speak louder than words.

Hope and change. Say it with me now…

 
 

Google Buzz = Privacy Violating Pile Of Shit

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

So Google Buzz is opt-out and not opt-in. So you have to turn it off, but that’s only after it starts sharing crap with everyone you’ve ever exchanged an email with. Mainly, it announces to the world who you chat and email with the most (link, link and link). That’s PRIVATE information. At a minimum, you have to go into your settings and adjust your privacy settings. But you’re probably better off scrolling down to the bottom of your screen and turning the whole damned thing off.

And that doesn’t even bring up that Buzz doesn’t work with Firefox, and breaks all sorts of other functionality in Gmail. Gee, THANKS GOOGLE!

I guess Steve Jobs had a point when he said that Google’s slogan, “Don’t Be Evil” was bullshit. It most certainly is.

 
 

eBooks

Monday, February 8th, 2010

So you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Macmillan/Amazon spat over eBook pricing. And you may have read John Scalzi’s snide play about how tough life would be for writers without publishers. And today, the CEO of Penguin has an op-ed in the WSJ on the subject as well. I think they’re all kind of missing the point.

Traditionally, publishing and retailing were distinct enterprises, with separate margins. Publishers would print up large numbers of copies of books which would then be sent to retailers for sale. Invariably, excess books would be printed, which then needed to be destroyed. The cost of printing, hauling, and destroying all those books was enormous, not to mention the capital costs of both the printing operation and the retailer. Because all of these costs were simply too high to be borne by a writer, writers would seek publishers to print and distribute their work.

Because the cost was so high up front to publish, publishers would make every effort to carefully screen the books they would choose to take on. They couldn’t publish any old crap out there because the cost would be prohibitive. In fact, there still exists an enormous imbalance between publisher and author. Publishers demand authors secure for themselves agents, who take a cut of what the author gets of course. Said agents act as a screening device for publishers, aiding the publisher from having to sort through volumes of junk to get to the good stuff.

I would posit that in a world of electronic publishing, where the marginal cost of producing an extra copy of anything is exactly zero, there ought to be no difference between a publisher and a retailer, and that the agency model should disappear entirely. In such a world, prices for books ought to come down enormously.

The CEO of Penguin attempts to argue that since the cost of a book is only 10% of its price, that that’s the only discount that ought to be available for electronic publishing. I have no idea if his 10% number includes printing and destroying the volumes of books that don’t sell, but clearly those costs go away too. Marketing costs wouldn’t completely go away of course, but the double margin for the publisher and the retailer, not to mention the agent, all ought to be compressed into one party’s profit margin.

Moreover, there’s no need for a CEO of Penguin, or all the stature and overhead that those organizations support. I think that people who live inside the entertainment world, publishing included, completely underestimate the resentment which consumers have toward them and the outlandish ways in which they spend their money. As a consumer, I have absolutely zero need for the fancy offices and executive management of a publishing house to enjoy my books. Same for the outrageous salaries and lifestyles of the Hollywood elite. Throughout most of human history, being an entertainer was not among the most lucrative professions on earth, and there is no reason why it should be today.

The model of the future, I believe, is one where publisher and retailer is one in the same, probably Apple and/or Amazon, maybe Barnes & Noble will get in on the act. The Penguins of the world go away except for printing and licensing out the works they already have a lock on. Agents will eventually fade away as well. The need to spend large marketing dollars on entertainment is folly. People discover what they like by means of social networks, and intelligent in-store algorithms that know what you would like based on your past preferences and buying history. That trend is only going to increase in the future.

Scalzi’s story about his difficulty in finding an editor and graphic artist for his books in a world without publishers is downright silly. Surely, he knows who his editor is today. Surely, in a world where Macmillan goes bankrupt, Scalzi and his editor can come to some sort of arrangement. I have been involved in the launch of a large number of websites, all of which are nicely laid out, and never found that the cost of hiring coders or graphic artists was prohibitive, if I used my personal connections and knew where to look. With respect to publishing, I wrote a book that I was looking to get edited, and was quoted a price of $3k. That was expensive for me at the time, but if you’re making a living at this, if you’re a known author, if you’re keeping more profits because your agent and publisher are now gone from the picture, surely you can afford it. And as for taking the time to find one you like, it can’t possibly be more work than finding an agent who you like and who will represent your work currently. No, those objections are red herrings.

I understand that the new world that is coming down the pike is a scary one, and a lot of people don’t like change. But it is coming. I suspect that in 20 years paper books will be mostly decorative items, used to show off which books you liked most, and to simply fill up the shelves we have in our homes. But we won’t really be reading books on paper much any more. That world will be a great one for aspiring authors and for consumers. Frankly, I can’t wait for the BS to get all sorted out in the interim.

Oh, and BTW, the CEO of Penguin ends his article by saying that he’d love to be the publisher for Jane Austin‘s novels in electronic form. But why would anyone want to pay him for works that are in the public domain? Surely Apple and Amazon will offer them for deminimus amounts, along with the rest of the world’s literature that’s in the public domain. If you think the publishers are in a bad place now, just wait until some sort of copyright reform happens…

 
 

Superbowl and Alchemy

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

So this year marks Superbowl XLIV, or #44. Likewise, Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. This is the one and only time these numbers will ever intersect, unless something should happen to our current president and Joe Biden becomes #45 next year, in which case that will be the last time those two numbers will intersect unless something happens to Joe Biden, and so on. There must be some larger alchemical meaning in this numerical intersection, but I will leave it to my readership to attempt to determine just what that meaning is.

UPDATE: Speaking of which, I think it would be way cooler if presidents used Roman numerals like the Superbowl does, to designate themselves. Why doesn’t that happen?