Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of the Aughts

A sobering look at the first decade of the 21st century, and how it began for some.

Up on the ancient mound of Armageddon, we could see Nazareth to the east, Mount Tabor, and the pass down to the Mediterranean. We were surrounded by, in fact atop the scene of many ancient and terrible battles. It wasn’t for nothing John of Patmos in his cave settled on Armageddon as the place where the world would end. It had been doing that on a regular basis there for centuries.

The sky was afire, blood red and terrible overhead. It looked great, very apocalyptic. But Garo needed someone to <photograph> amid the ancient wreckage of 16 cities, and I needed someone to quote. I caught a flash of black in the corner of my eye, a caped figure bounding across the old fallen stones at some distance.

“Look, it’s the Angel of Death,” I said. “Let’s go get him.”

By the time we ran him down in among some rocks, he had taken the form of a longhaired, heavily tattooed, Bible-quoting car park attendant from Albuquerque. I asked if he was here waiting for the End Times, for the Great Final Battle between Good and Evil. He gave me a look like I didn’t get it, and said, “That’s been going on for some time. It’s going on all around us. You just can’t see it.”

It wasn’t all dark, but it was dark enough.  The fire and the flame were just the beginning, and I fear that the end is nowhere in sight.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post Racial Racism

I’m not sure what this represents.  It is litigation out of control, or a swing in the perception of racism to being something less determined by skin color and more by intent?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I don't know what T-Mobile is up to, but I'm blogging and generally having a good time with my laptop tethered to my G1. The speed tests aren't that impressive, still under 1mbps, but I've RDP'd to my home network and used Skype to call the test line.

As far as I can tell the HSPA upgrade hasn't occurred yet, but when it does this might be an alternative to wired broadband. Have to see if they offer home service.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

History Repeats

I just read this little gem:

Under the UN rules for the climate change negotiations, any final agreement would have to be accepted by all of the 193 countries present.

Yeah, cuz that worked so well for the Articles of Confederation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rounding Error

The Commerce Department has again revised downward the GDP growth:

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the economy grew at a 2.2 percent pace in the July-to-September quarter, slower than the 2.8 percent growth rate estimated just a month ago. Economists were predicting that figure wouldn't be revised in the government's final estimate on third-quarter GDP.

Hot Air notes this:

Most troubling is Commerce’s poor performance in analyzing economic conditions.  If they’re so incompetent as to miss this figure by 37% (1.3 from 3.5 is slightly over 37%), then clearly they need some fresh talent.  If they got pressured into stating overly cheerful numbers, it’s something else entirely.

Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence.  Three times is enemy action.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On Charging

As I embark on this new adventure, I often wonder how to price myself.  I ran across this on Google Wave today:

I read the following piece of advice on rates: You are almost certainly valuing yourself too low. To determine if that is the case, next time you're quoting your rate, tell the client the price, and then punch him in the face. If he looks more offended by the punch, you're not charging enough.

Something to think about.

Don’t tug on Superman’s cape

Senator Al Franken, Capitol Hill Rookie, retired comedian, and failed radio talk show host, made a splash last week.

But last week the wheels briefly flew off of the collegiality cart when newly minted Senator Al Franken temporarily took the gavel to preside over the health care debate. Joe Lieberman — frequently a recent target of progressive ire — was concluding his remarks when he was abruptly informed that his allotted ten minutes had expired. Using a procedure common to all members, Senator Lieberman requested unanimous consent for “a moment” to wrap up his statement. Franken, in his capacity as the “senator from Minnesota,” took this opportunity to grab a few headlines with two simple words: “I object.”

Understand that Joe Lieberman was rejected by Franken’s party after years of service, lost his state primary, and still managed to stuff the Democrat’s candidate’s head up his own ass. 

Meanwhile, Franken was barely confirmed to his post after months of recounts and some very, very iffy poll shenanigans.

Who sounds more vulnerable to you?

As with most things in the world, Franken had a cost/benefit analysis to make:  Do I let this respected senator continue for a few minutes to finish his remarks, or do I make this insufferable embarrassment to the Party shut his piehole?

I suspect he chose poorly.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Danger of Success

Bryan Singer has managed to fall into the same trap as Joss Whedon: He's been so convinced by his legions of fans that he can do no wrong that he is no longer capable of looking at his own work objectively.

in reference to:

"What was supposed to be a long retirement into the land of DC Comics ended up being just a short vacation for Bryan Singer."
- (view on Google Sidewiki)

Why Movies Are Less Appealing

Without going into a discussion about Avatar, Howard Tayler just helped me to realize something.

I expect to enjoy it, but also to recall at least one or two better tellings of the same general tale, the same morality play. For most audience members, however, this will feel brand new and wonderful.

I’ve been considering why I don’t seem to go to nearly as many movies as I once did.  I fully realize that most stores can fall into a handful of general categories, but that doesn’t bother me as long as they try to tell the story in a new way.

Unfortunately, I think my expectations of movies has shifted.  I don’t think they’re trying hard enough to add something to the genre, especially when the director/writer uses the film as a soapbox for his personal views without acknowledging that there might be another perspective.

Here’s where I bake your noodle.  I like South Park precisely because it does that.  It can look at the use of a word and attack it from all sides, and defend as well.  In a recent episode they managed to examine, in a half hour, how the use of the term “fag” is inappropriate, historically negative towards many different groups, why it’s not a crisis of culture that the term is used, and why it’s only applied to certain types of groups.

That’s some complex shit.  Oh, and it was funny.

So if you can’t put a new twist on it, at least give it an uplifting ending.  Then, again, I may not be the target market any more.

Thought of the Day

I’ll bet even people who haven’t seen A Few Good Men will recognize this quote:

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Why is it that the climactic monologue by the ostensible villian of the piece is the part that resonates so strongly with our culture?  Is it because deep down, we acknowledge that there are hard choices to be made, and that in reality we “want them on that wall”?

Or maybe Tom Cruise should have never been put head to head with Jack Nicholson?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gauntlet is Thrown

Via Instapundit, we have this:

It's time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America. This year's city budget is an astonishing $6.6 billion — more than twice the budget for the entire state of Idaho — for roughly 800,000 residents. Yet despite that stratospheric amount, San Francisco can't point to progress on many of the social issues it spends liberally to tackle — and no one is made to answer when the city comes up short.

The city's ineptitude is no secret. "I have never heard anyone, even amongliberals, say, 'If only [our city] could be run like San Francisco,'" says urbanologist Joel Kotkin. "Even other liberal places wouldn't put up with the degree of dysfunction they have in San Francisco. In Houston, the exact opposite of San Francisco, I assume you'd get shot."

You see that, Detroit?  Someone is trying to steal your title.  Perhaps I’m biased by proximity, but I think we have a really good argument that Detroit is the worst run big city, hell any sized city, in America.

Whether it’s inept graft, blatant thuggery, or outright theft, Detroit has the best of the worst.

So go ahead, Frisco, do your worst.  I’ll pit Detroit’s short-sighted ignorant self-interest and corruption against your starry-eyed idealism, myopia, and incompetence any day of the week.

Snowbound Traffic Lights

The Law of Unintended Consequences rides again:

MILWAUKEE – Cities around the country that have installed energy-efficient traffic lights are discovering a hazardous downside: The bulbs don't burn hot enough to melt snow and can become crusted over in a storm — a problem blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death.

"I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from West Bend who got into a fender-bender recently because he couldn't see the lights. "The police officer told me the new lights weren't melting the snow. How is that safe?"

Many communities have switched to LED bulbs in their traffic lights because they use 90 percent less energy than the old incandescent variety, last far longer and save money. Their great advantage is also their drawback: They do not waste energy by producing heat.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas

You may remember that spot of excitement we had back in July:

And here are some photos of the aftermath:

Well it looks like the much maligned folks at MDOT have pulled off quite a coup as the bridge will be re-opening Monday.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the reopening of the Nine Mile Road bridge over Interstate 75 in Hazel Park is planned for Monday at 10 a.m.
I'm sure this comes as a relief to local businesses, some of which have seen their clientèle literally cut in half.

Consider Convergence

I’m notorious for carrying more electronics than I need, and I still try to combine devices whenever it’s possible and wise.

Something Xavier Lanier might consider:


I put my MacBook Pro and HP Envy 13 in one tray and all of my gadgets in another.  Amongst the gadgets I’m carrying is my Sanyo Xacti  HD1010 camcorder, a pair of Seagate portable drives, a Gorilla Pod, a Blackberry Pearl, a pair of iPhones, a Monster travel surge protector, a portable speaker from Radio Shack, a Reliance 3G modem, a Call Pod Duo and a couple of SanDisk CF card readers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Changing Tastes

I don't like beer, but if it keeps me healthy...

Beer could be the new weapon against cancer - News: "MEN now have another excuse to go down the pub thanks to new research suggesting that a compound in beer may prevent prostate cancer.
Tests showed that the ingredient, xanthohumol, blocked a biological pathway that allows prostate cancer to be fuelled by the male hormone testosterone.

The disease is commonly treated with drugs that act in a similar way."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Join listing

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that having everyone's connections on the front page is not compelling news.

I know you're just getting started, but this really does make me want to go elsewhere.

in reference to: (view on Google Sidewiki)

So THAT’S why

Shamus explains it all

It’s all done through Twitter, so you have to have a Twitter account to vote. I’m sorry. It’s a web 2.0 thing. Didn’t you know? Web 2.0 is about connecting every social media site to every other one in a giant clusterfarg of account names and logins until the whole network collapses in on itself and forms a CSS-compliant singularity.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The value of a life

This is the kind of attitude that informs the health care bills.  The health adviser to the President says:


According to Emanuel, “The death of a 20-year-old woman is intuitively worse than that of a two-month-old girl.” I doubt the parents of the two-month-old agree.

In what world is that intuitive?

And, if you are a child with disabilities, the government has already completely given up on you. Emanuel believes“services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed.” What’s worse, since he does not believe in “guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason,” once the public option puts the private sector out of business, these types of life-changing services for children will no longer exist.

It wasn’t that long ago that how we care for our sick was a rallying cry.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Vancouver Reunion Show

This weeks’ Dollhouse brings back some of my favorites from several Genre series:

Tonight's back-to-back episodes, "The Public Eye" and "The Left Hand," feature Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Alexis Denisof, who guest-stars as U.S. Sen. Daniel Perrin. He's on a mission to expose the secrets of the Dollhouse with the help of Madeline/November (Miracle Laurie). The team heads to Washington and runs into Bennett Halverson, a brilliant programmer who has a connection to Echo's past. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' Summer Glau plays Bennett, and Reaper's Ray Wise plays her boss, Stewart.

I’m especially excited to see Ray Wise in something.  He was creepily devious as Reaper’s resident Prince of Lies, and I’m eager to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Healthcare Alternatives

Lots of people talk about allowing the market to take care of healthcare, but what exactly does that mean?

The prospect of paying for my own health insurance is actually kind of daunting, but if I had more money coming in, and I was allowed to price shop, I might find something more comfortable…