Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MySpace is a Time Machine

...right back to 1994-1996. Anyone remember those days? Unless you were surfing at work, you were probably on dial-up, and 56K felt "fast". MySpace has great 300 baud emulation and seems to have it engaged all the time. The site almost never even works for is this thing so popular when it seems to have the uptime of Windows 3.1?

And remember the design of people's home pages then? Blinking text everywhere, lots of background images with text over top of the image, or just as bad, poorly mismatched color for text vs. background, and all sorts of distracting doo-dads flashing everywhere. I remember I used to sub to Wired magazine, and it had a similarly painful format, which I eventually had to quit reading mostly due to that (and way too much hype), even though at that time I did harbor some sympathies with the whole techno-libertarian thing (and still do). One of the funniest things the MST3K guys ever said was for the opening credits of a movie they were ripping on with horrible, horrible, 80's-style graphics: "Still, it's better than reading Wired magazine".

Well, Myspace seems to have that emulation fully engaged, all the time, thanks to many of its members seemingly not caring a whit about readability, usability, etc.

More "News" for the Reptile Brain

I wish I had bet someone at work on this one - I saw this "story" being run practically ALL DAY on CNN, and my first instinct was that it's probably bullshit. I was probably influenced because I'm reading Cable News Confidential, but that's neither here nor there.

Turns out it was total bullshit. All that coverage over LED art? Good grief. And I can't imagine what sort of coverage Faux had.

BTW, I wonder if I'll ever see a reasonable story (and not "balanced",either, but something we in the reality-based community like to call "factual") covering the supposed liquid bombs on planes of last least within television media.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Stupidity and An Inconvenient Truth

It so happens I had checked both of these movies out of the library in the same week that we have a school banning one of them because a parent apparently wants the movie to be "balanced" by stories from an old book. Check out just how enlightened this guy is:

"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."

Sorry, if you use what is obviously allegory and fairy tales as the bedrock of what the "truth" is, you have disqualified yourself from being able to engage in any so-called "debate" over global warming. End of story. The Earth is 14,000 years old? I feel sorry for this guy's daughter.

Pretty amusing, since in the movie Stupidity, one of the people made remarks that one of the hardest things people can do is to change their minds, and he specifically mentioned things like driving SUVs and global warming. If you tell them something that instills fear, they will usually go and do the exact opposite of what they should be doing (reptile brain takes over, I guess) like go and buy an even bigger SUV. So I really found the synchronicity pretty funny that within the same week, some idiot (in a blue state, no less) puts the brakes on his child being exposed to anything that might conflict with his worldview - even if it's the truth. They also made remarks about how rigid adherence to one's Belief System (BS) might track well with stupidity as it leads to cognitive dissonance.

I'd wager this guy listens to Limbaugh or one his many imitators like Hannity, O'Reilly, Ingraham, etc. I'd also bet he's a Republican. When are the Republicans going to change their mascot to the ostrich, by the way? It seems they want to hide from or at least whitewash reality at every turn.

How can you "balance" something in a scientific context with stories that cannot be corroborated by anything other than faith? I think it's only a matter of time before Flat Earthers start asking schools to "teach the controversy" of the "theories" regarding globe vs. flat-earth.

I wonder if these religious people know what useful idiots they are when it comes to playing right into the hands of industry. Now I know why Jefferson said this: "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Anyway, go see both movies. Stupidity was very interesting and funny, and Chomsky makes an appearance to make (as usual) lots of cogent arguments, especially about the usefulness of television to make idiots out of us all, and how that it is a conscious effort on the part of business. An Inconvenient Truth was interesting, especially if you didn't already read the book. A bit more dry than Stupidity, obviously, as there are lots of figures and charts.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"Corporations Are Made Up Of People" and Freeride Markets

"Corporations are made up of people". If you've listened to right-wing radio, or listened to talking points of any of the many of the right wing elite's've probably heard this red herring. It ranks up way up there, and may be even the very favorite of right wing red herring, I mean, talking points.

Well, sure, corporations are made up of people. It doesn't mean they should get a pass on crimes or social costs that everyone else is made to clean up or a free ride on the so-called free market which is more appropriately called the "freeride market". The free ride is for corporations - they dodge taxes, don't have to fight and die in the wars they encourage/demand, never die, and then never have any calling to answer to those they get the free ride from.

Let's take the favorite whipping boy of the right - the government. The GOVERNMENT is made up of people, too, but that never keeps a right-winger from lambasting government "inefficiency" (as if efficiency was the noblest of human goals in the first place) or crimes of a government out of control. Sure, corporations don't usually kill people directly - instead they hire governments or armies or police or paramilitaries to carry out their crimes instead. See the history of labor organization in this country or places like Colombia now - I originally learned about the alleged crimes of Coke in that left-wing communist rag, the Wall Street Journal, BTW. The KKK is made up of people. The SS was made up of people. How can right-wingers get away with this flimsy excuse for corporate crimes?

So this idea that since corporations are "made up of people" and employ people, clothe people, feed people, etc. does not mean they are above reproach.

I was eating dinner with some folks, we were talking politics and I let slip a comparison between corporations and the mafia. This was in relation to Google buying up fiber in secret under the guise of other front companies. It was not received all that well, but I wasn't being facetious. There are many comparisons. Like I said above, corporations won't usually kill directly - they'll pay someone else to do it. Let's take a closer look at this comparison:

1. Mafia will do things for PR as well to show that they care for the community.
2. Mafia will kill those that threaten its lifeblood - which is money, just like a corporation.
3. Mafia will even use companies as fronts.
4. Secrecy reigns supreme at the top tiers of both. Lip service is paid to transparency but if corporations really had their druthers, they'd reveal nothing.
5. Both reward sociopathic behavior.
6. Both are made up of people.

Is it really hyperbole to compare the two? I don't think so. Not that all MNCs or even Google has reached that sort of depravity (yet), but many have and many have the potential to do so - and get away with it, often with cheerleading from Wall Street.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

HDTV? ZZZZZzzzz...DRM? Hmmm...

The market continues to flog HDTV, a format that I only find mildly interesting in itself, and still nothing even remotely interesting in the content department after all these years of hype - assuming I stick to a TV. If I go and find content online, hypothetically, the sky's the limit on res, and more interesting content. Those who are worrying about 1080p right now might feel pretty dumb if/when 2160p becomes the new "standard" for videophiles and once again, feel inadequate. And seriously, if we are gonna fetishize technology to create angst about keeping up with the Joneses, we should investigate looking at upping the framerate.

Whatever, we can all get worried about the res on our TVs, but what's the point, if there's nothing to watch on that slick TV anyway? Again, useless consumerist fetishism if you ask me, but I have rather selective tastes when it comes to watching TV. I'm not going to watch local news in HD vs. SD just for the res, for Pete's sake - local news is still just as puerile in HD or UHD or surround sound. The planned switch to *digital* actually has many benefits, but don't let anyone confuse you on this: digital ENABLES HD, but you will NOT have to have an HDTV set after 2009. So don't let anyone lie to you about that. Anyway, by that point, like the rest of the sheep, I'll probably have HD sets, too, though I dunno if 2160p will be in consumer market or not...or if UHD will be the next thing being flogged to the masses. If I didn't get free cable due to my job, I'd seriously consider getting rid of the televisions entirely...

Anyway, enough of my slagging HDTV. I'm sure it has its uses if you actually watch football games or local news.

What I actually find pretty interesting is DRM, and I've been eyeing it for a while now. I would have already popped one into my car, but the Nissan has a radio unit that is fairly strange and I'm hesitant about messing with, as it has tape, CD and radio, and I like tape for my DJ mix tapes and ipod interface. Also, it's not available in the U.S. yet, AFAIK...

What DRM also might provide is an easy Tivo-like device for radio. It'd be interesting if it was feasible to add something like this to an ipod. Yeah, it's more consumer fetishism on my part. :) But at least I'm not saying it will change the world...and unlike some of those that snap up things like iPhones and HDTV, I'm not doing it in a misguided attempt to impress my neighbors and friends. Since most people don't seem to know about DRM (in the U.S.) I cannot even have that illusion, anyway.

Note to Tech Industry: Don't Believe the Hype

Okay, I know that will never, ever happen. But it grows so tiring. There always seems to be some new technology or methodology that will be the Silver Bullet. This happens even if the leading proponents of the New It Thing openly acknowledge and even precede their proselytizing with that disclaimer.

Just since I've been in the industry, I can think of dozens of things that came along that were sometimes great tools to add to the toolbelt, sometimes not, but always way, way, way overhyped: OOP, UML, RUP, CMM, Java, .NET, Ruby on Rails, Spring, Network Computers, Agile (XP, Scrum, etc.), Web 2.0.

It's even funnier when it's specific products - like the iPhone. When announced, we had people claiming it was going to change everything. Huh? C'mon, let's not take consumerist fetishism any further into hyperbole, okay? It seems to have a cute interface and all, and I suspect that may incrementally change things. I know techies are especially guilty of consumerist fetishism, but it was plain embarrassing to see people who are otherwise probably reasonably intelligent acting like sheople over an electronic device. Even funnier, a week later, CNN toned down their rhetoric (again, over a consumer electronic device, people!) and talked about how people in Tokyo sort of said "ho-hum" about the iPhone - since it only uses 2G network for data and they've been on 3G for years...

At least with something like the iPhone, I can safely ignore it and laugh behind my hand at all the goofiness of my fellow domesticated primates. When my entire industry comes under the sway of the latest newest thing (meanwhile pretending to forget all the lessons of the past, or else having learned nothing, I guess) I have to pretend as if others that can influence my job are speaking or thinking intelligently when they become infected by the same meme as the rest of the industry.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Greasemonkey Housekeeping

So I recently had to update some of my Greasemonkey scripts, as my Google Dual Index was semi-broken on the blogger search - it was inserting the copy of the index right after the first result instead of before.

I also had created a copy of my Amazon search for someone else's library since they had asked about it, and had yet to acquire the Javascript/XML/HTML skills yet to do it themselves. It turns out the library in question (Stark County) uses the same software that Adams County does here in Colorado, so cloning it was pretty easy.

I've been purging older copies of scripts as time goes on, and the first I created sometime in late 2005. The very oldest one I still have around has a number of 2000-something. The newest has something in the 7000's. That means in about a year and some months, about 5000 scripts have been written - and that's just the ones that are managed on It's pretty cool to see so much adoption and use of Greasemonkey.

I still have more work to do - I need to re-work my Google Number results script to number results on more than just the web search - I'd like to number results on froogle, groups, blogger for starters.

Monday, January 15, 2007


So I made a comment about how today would be the annual national self-flagellation day when it comes to MLK - however, it's all pomp and circumstance and little substance. The media always seems to overlook much of MLK's legacy, specifically, speaking out on more than issues of race.

A few months ago, the Out There podcast did a very excellent podcast in two parts in which they discuss MLK and the "conspiracy theories" surrounding his death. What they do a very good job is mentioning that if there truly was a conspiracy to kill him, it wouldn't be for his stance on would probably be his anti-war stance and/or his thoughts on class struggle.

I recently popped over to democraticunderground, and they have video of the same speech that the Out There guys played. Check it out...I think they are right. You won't see Blitzer and crew going over this speech with blow by blow comments.

If you are tired of the horse manure served up as the whole truth about MLK, I cannot recommend the Out There podcast on MLK enough - it's called Murder in Memphis part I & II. I also recommend the show in general, as well.

Brute Force Printer Fix

Quite some time ago, I bought a Brother 5250DN, and proceeded to screw up the network port almost immediately. Not intentionally, mind you. :) I was putting the jack in backwards, thinking it was correct - okay, the room didn't have all the lights it should have had on. So a routine install turned into quite a frustrating time, since it was no longer finding the printer on the network. So I just bailed, and instead slaved the printer off Tiffany's Windoze machine using the USB jack and was able to print from all relevant machines, but had the irritation of every time I printed, knowing that it was a less than ideal set-up, especially given that I bought it specifically because it had duplex printing and networking built-in.

Recently, Tiffany moved her computer to another room, so I decided to revisit the whole printer mess - this time, I was hell-bent on getting it to work if at all possible. Finally, at wit's end and after making sure it wasn't a router port or a cable, I decided to take a very small screwdriver and try to move the pins that had been pushed down before when I put the jack in backwards. I very gently tried to pull the pins toward me and then re-inserted jack, and then used Brother software that does the scan, and holy cow, it worked! Now I just wonder how delicate that connection is, but for now it's working without being slaved...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Red State

This movie has its moments of brilliance. I especially liked that he actually challenged the oft-repeated claim that America is founded on Christian (or Biblical) principles. I would like one person that says that to actually back that up, and not with just mythical nonsense about the forefathers, but with actual facts. Many of the founders were deists, which is about as close as to atheism as allowed in polite company at that time, and I'm sure they were quite aware of the crimes of Christianity. That's why no religion is codified, and no mention of God is in the Constitution, people. People were still being burned for witchcraft back in the home country at that time. The Inquisition was not abolished until 1834 in Europe and I'm sure the founders learned a few things as a result of Cromwell and religious fervor in general. That God was omitted from the Constitution was intentional.

Sorry for the diversion, but that retarded claim always gets my back up. I think some of these people might actually know deep down that it's not true, otherwise they wouldn't keep repeating it, mantra-like, as if somehow they could actually MAKE it true by mindlessly repeating it.

For the most part, the director turns on the camera and lets "red staters" indict themselves (mostly unwittingly, I imagine) in their own words. It was enjoyable to watch him trying to dig in a bit on the Wal-Mart thing with one group - I imagine he was curious as to why these people consistently vote against their own economic interests over such goofy non-issues like abortion and gay marriage. Here's one clue: don't like abortion? Don't have one. Don't like gay marriage? Don't marry someone of the same sex!

Speaking of single issue voters, I really enjoyed how one woman stated that if we allow gay marriage, America will have no future...implying that "teh gayness" is so alluring that if actually allowed to get married, then everyone will turn to gayness and there will be no children. I wonder if these people really think it that enticing, and WHY they think so? Maybe this woman was closeted as so many other homophobes seem to turn out to be, hm?

And as for being gay being a choice - people, give me a break. That implies being hetero is a choice, and I can't recall making the choice to be hetero...I just was and still am. America can change whatever public policy they want regarding homosexual rights and you can be sure that people that were actually straight will not suddenly start practicing the gayness overnight. Anyone that says otherwise is probably in the closet.

Note to Self: Use CIFS. Always.

Forgive the detour into some rather mystical Linux incantations...

So I was griping some time ago about Ubuntu, finding a decent mp3 player and connecting to a Samba share on network-attached storage over a wireless network. Turns out I should be using CIFS.

I found this forum entry, and gave the suggestion on there a try, and sure enough, everything works just fine. I was copying massive AVI files over the network TO the share, while also playing mp3s FROM that drive and no problems at all after using CIFS instead...

Jan 15th - DIY Impeachment

A while ago, I mentioned the DIY impeachment initiative, with a blitz that is supposed to happen on Jan 15th. We'll have to see if the mainstream "liberal media" covers this to any sort of degree - and doing it without dismissing it with contempt.

I'm talking about the same "liberal media" that allowed CNN to cover a funny smell in Manhattan virtually non-stop last Monday, and then covered such important news as Apple's iPhone virtually all day Tuesday. Um, we just had a turnover of power in the United States, we have a majority of Americans who want Bush to be impeached, we are conducting at least two known wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) and people are saber-rattling for a third (Iran), and CNN chooses THESE topics to spend so much air-time on? And these more serious topics if we only choose insular topics - there is much world news to cover. To cover funny smells or consumer fetishes (not to mention covering such D-grade celebrities as Paris) to this degree is just plain embarrassing. And I haven't even bothered lately to watch Faux News to see what they considered newsworthy.

I'm not holding my breath for this to get significant and sympathetic coverage.

Besides, this might not have been the best day to pick as most "news" on the 15th will be busy adulating (only part of) MLK's legacy to assuage white guilt in the typical yearly ritual. More about MLK in another entry...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson - 1/11

So I finally got around to setting up an account on LibraryThing and putting data into it earlier this week. I was noticing how much of old Bob's material was on there and reflecting on how much reading material besides his I've chosen to read because of reading RAW...and then I read that he passed away earlier this morning.

I can't say I'm surprised, though he will be missed. I'm sure there's a new crop of writers that will step in to continue RAW's thoughts and interests. I sure hope so. Maybe Pinchbeck is one - he sure is influenced by him. With McKenna, Leary and now RAW gone, there are definitely some shoes to fill and try to carry this blue marble a little further in the evolutionary process...

It's sad that CNN didn't bother to cover this all day like they did on such trivial topics like the iPhone or a bad smell in Manhattan.

I guess the silver lining is that at least the people that actually matter know who he is and mourn his loss. I was especially interested to see that George Carlin had said in Conversations on the Edge of Apocalypse that he was a huge admirer of RAW. That really resonated with me since I always associated RAW's humor with Carlin's in my head...

As a benefit to those that should know who he is, but don't, you can digg the article over here, and try to push the story to the top. Even Slashdot hasn't mentioned it (yet).

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