Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another Myth Debunked

I guess there goes that whole "Jobs Americans won't do" argument.

The sub-headline: Applicants line up to fill jobs left empty by Swift plant raid

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What the heck do all these other people do?

My wife and I are moving from our lovely home in Hopkinton, MA (anyone want to buy a house?) to the NY Metro area. We are starting to settle on NJ as our landing place. In looking at houses though, I can't believe what you can't get for the kind of money I am willing and able to play. I like to think that I am doing pretty well for a guy in his mid-thirties. According to the government, I am in the top 2% of wage-earners, but when I look at what these houses cost, I have to wonder - what the hell do these people do for a living or how did they get their money?

I am not trying to live in Manhattan. Pretty much, my commute is going to be an hour to get to mid-town. Yes, I am looking at houses in areas with good schools. I think I must be doing something wrong.

What tech toys should I lust after?

Here's something truly distressing. I don't really feel like I have a need for any new tech toys. I am in a virtual panic. The things that are out there I can really use, I have. For Christmas, the wife and I finally bit the bullet on a GPS. I like to believe I have one of these in my head, but with us moving soon to NJ, I am sure it will be helpful. So this has me in virtual state of panic. Like a junkie without a dealer.

Here is the best I can do at lusting after items. Truly they seem so eccentric to me that I can't coax myself into true desire.

  • Dell 30-inch LCD computer monitor - tons of pixel glory - lovely, but a little much.
  • Video iPod - I think I will wait for the "full-screen" version, which I think will be out in the spring
  • 1080p LCD - I don't really have a place to put it, honestly.
I am struggling to come up with other things. Leave your suggestions in comments.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You can't go to school here son, because...

This is why I get upset with stupid infringements on freedom. By the logic of liberals, circumcision could become a requirement for boys to attend government funded schools. Gives new meaning to the concept of an entrance exam....

This is particularly egregious when the government service in question and the infringement aren't even correlated. Tell me why school attendance and STD-prevention requirement go together?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

PETA hates your favorite charity

In a lame/bold move to draw attention to themselves; selfish, animal rights terrorists, PETA bought a "dinner with Beyonce at Nobu" from a charity auction. Then, as she sat down to eat, unaware of their agenda or intention, they got aggressive with her about her clothing line. MSNBC has the article.

Besides proving nothing, this has a few seriously bad side effects. Think about this - you are a star, you want to support a cause and "make a fan's dreams come true" (remember, you are a star and you think this way). So, graciously, you donate your time and privacy to the cause and put an expensive dinner with you up for auction - you know, for the children with cancer, etc. Now - you have to worry that some idiot with a PR agenda is going to pull some crap like this and get national attention.

So - do you still want to donate your time? Didn't think so. Thanks PETA.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Ever since my youth and our "Missions from God" where we set gnome armies upon the homes of unsuspecting teenage girls, I have been creeped out by and simultaneously fascinated by garden gnomes.

This is the perfect way to display them in your garden.

Technology Blowback

Just like in arms and intelligence, using technology to defend against illicit (or annoying) behavior often has reverse consequences. The word for this in CIA and elsewhere is blowback.

The "war on teen loiterers" has just had its great example. Big news a month or two back was the touted success at a convenience store in the UK using a device called a "mosquito". More on it and the declaration of victory here. The device works basically by loudly broadcasting a sound only younger people can hear which annoys them until they find somewhere else to hang out.

Well, it took about two weeks before teens figured out "hey - if adults can't hear it, then we can use it for our own purposes". Here is an article describing where kids downloaded the MP3 to their cell phones and use it as a "silent" ring so adults don't know they are sending SMS messages. The teens calls the sound "Teen Buzz".

Think of the possibilities...
A student could put a device in his pocket and go through a whole multiple-choice exam, broadcast his/her selections to a room full of kids, all with the proctors sitting right there.

I don't condone cheating, but I love this story.

Add your own examples as to how to take advantage of Teen Buzz in comments.

[Updated 6/9/2006] Corrected spelling.

The best excuse I could find for Slingbox... could be gone?

I love the concept of the Slingbox. Very cool technology. However, I have always felt that it was a technology in need of a problem.

When I discussed this with folks, the best (and really only reasonable) excuse we could come up with to own one of these was in the situation of a "displaced" fan of some form. Displaced fans in this context would be, for example, Red Sox fans living in Tempe, AZ or Twins fans in Miami. A particularly good example would be, say, a college student going to UNC from elsewhere or a traveling consultant.

Well, MLB is already trying to put the kaibash on this and pretty much take out Slingbox's raison d'etre. They haven't sued anyone yet, but you know its coming at some point.

To me, the issue is whether or not the "slingboxer" - the person watching the stream from the Slingbox - has already paid for that content. If they are a member of that household that has subscribed to cable, then its ok. If they are not a member of that household, then it seems like that house is "rebroadcasting" to me. So consultant away from home and college student - ok, distant relative that really loves the Florida Marlins - not ok. MLB has the ability on their site for them to purchase this content.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Quick! Before I violate the "use a paper product to remove mucus from nose" patent

I have to tell you - while I respect the rights of people to have their work protected - like software source code, drug development, songs (for a short while) or trademark design, patenting obvious stuff (like "One-click Ordering" and "use of menus to display available functions in software") completely stiffles innovation. There are hundreds of examples of completely stupid patents that are just lawsuits waiting to happen. I think Schick or someone has the "4 safety blades in parallel for shaving" patent - which is why Gillette went to 5 on this latest shaving blade arms-race product.

Excerpt from Engadget, read the whole source article here.

Patent system changes in the works?

...and it seems most agree that there needs to be a new system to allow challenges to patents shortly after they're approved in order to avoid costly litigation later on. Tech and financial service companies are also pulling for a second "window" to allow them to dispute patents once a patent infringement suit is filed
Texas Republican Lamar Smith is out front on this trying to get something going to fix the system.

Excerpt from CNET, source article here.
"The bill will eliminate legal gamesmanship from the current system that rewards lawsuit abuses over creativity," said Smith, a Texas Republican.

The Business Software Alliance was quick to praise the bill, saying in a statement that it goes a long way toward "improving patent quality, making sure U.S. law is consistent with that of other major countries and addressing disruptions caused by excessive litigation."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pre-emptive strikes, the New Monroe Doctrine and Iran

I am a big fan of the Monroe Doctrine circa 1823. Paraphrasing, it says, if a European Nation attempted to intervene and exert influence and power in our hemisphere (meaning the Americas), we would not allow it.

Two things to consider about this:
1. When this came out, European nations were still mucking around in Central and South America significantly - including in Mexico on our border (no surprise - this was Napolean). Europe contained the only nations with any power that could have threatened us (in any meaningful way) at that time.

2. In a 21st century world, when everyone is less than a 20-hour plane ride away, the hemisphere component of this is no longer relevant. Every place on earth is in our hemisphere. A terrorist sitting in Tehran can pick up his nuclear suitcase and be on our shores faster than my commute when the Mass Pike has an accident on it.

The Monroe Doctrine has been a philosophically critical reason we have not had sustained war on inside our borders (excluding the Civil War for obvious reasons). Recast, what it now means to me is that if your nation or organization (such as Al Qaeda) has the means and desire to unduly influence or threaten the US, we have the right and obligation to our citizenry to preempt and DISable the threat - using the best means at our disposal.

Given this, I am mentally prepared to take on the burdens of preventing another 9/11 on our shores or any of the other increasingly viable threats being hurled by saber-rattling Iranian mullahs and their leader -- even given what the consequences of that may be.

This seems to me to represent another angle on the "means" to hurt us. I am not very well convinced they lack desire.

Inexpensive HDMI Switch - where was this 4 months ago!

Warning: A/V club level geekdom

I have an older Samsung 61" DLP television which only has one DVI input. I also have a killer Harmony 880 remote that my lovely wife gave me for Father's Day last year (more on the 880 in a future post). This remote is great for creating macros for switching from one activity to another. I used to have a DVDO switch to handle going from TiVo to Comcast DVR to DVD player and back. That acted up on me due to a new Comcast box so I found a person for whom it would work on Ebay.

This left me with a horrid problem, I had no way to switch video inputs directly using discrete codes (the Samsung TV was too old for that). The least expensive solution was an HDMI switch. I was able to get this switch for about $140. Since I only have two HDMI inputs though, I really only needed this. (Hat tip: Gizmodo) Where was this 4 months ago?? I hate dropping too much money because products that should exist come out 4 months too late.

What I like most about this is the "No external power needed" element. I have two full daisy-chained power strips full of plugs behind my TV - so this is a big plus. At least mine is 5 x 1 and I have room to add my Blu-ray player - once they become reasonably priced.

Yours for $99.99.

Please let this be true.

Via Drudge and the Hartford Courant, please let this be true.

I love this because every time the Dems run a Yankee-accent wielding New England Senator, ( at least in the last few elections) they lose. Plus, just one more person to absorb money, beat up on Hillary and generally push the crowd further left.

History of Dance - or me at any wedding

I know you have probably seen this by now - I have gotten it at least 3 times in email, but in case you didn't...

Top 10 movies I will see over and over again

This blog isn't just going to be about politics and other rantings. Occasionally it may end up being a dumping ground for some of these lists that people (what people, you may ask?) talk with me about. This is going to be just such an occasion.

I strongly dislike watching movies even twice. My poor wife stares longingly at our DVD collection with hopes that someday, I will sit with her again through Howard's End or something. This isn't going to happen.

I do however have a small cadre of movies that I am willing to watch repeatedly. Some of these, I might even watch back-to-back. Here is my top ten list:

10. Oceans Eleven - I love heist movies, what can I say

9. The Blues Brothers - "no ma'am, we're musicians"

8. Any of the Sean Connery Bond movies - save the world, get the girl(s)

7. A Princess Bride - so quotable, I think I use a quote from this everyday

6. Star Wars (A New Hope and Empire only) - classic

5. The Godfather (I and II) - another amazing and quotable movie

4. This is Spinal Tap - I start laughing before the credits and basically, don't stop

3. Hoosiers - Basketball and Leadership

2. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery - "ill-tempered" sea bass with lasers, does it get any better?

1. The Fifth Element - This movie completely rocks.

I am sure I will think of others. But for now, this is where I start. Tell me what I missed in the comments.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Comments now open to all

I have changed the settings of this blog in order to allow comments to be open to everyone.

When the Feds fail, this is how things get done

There is going to be a lot more of what's going on in San Bernadino coming across the country if the Senate doesn't get close enough to the House version of an immigation bill.

Here is the most bizarre two paragraphs from the San Jose Mercury News (AP):

Roberto Arreola, 30, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, addressed the council before the decision.

"We are not criminals and it doesn't make sense for the city to pass a law against us," said Arreola, speaking in Spanish with a translator.

Emphasis mine.

If you don't know what it is, you don't have it

I love Fast Lane. In Massachusetts for those that have to pay to use the Mass Pike (I will address this some other time), we have an automated toll collection system known as Fast Lane. In theory its great. It saves me a ton of time most days - plus - I don't have to fish around for change while driving.

There is a drawback - stupid people. Stupid people actually increase the likelihood of an accident by meandering into the Fast Lane line either a) without thinking OR b) thinking "hey this line is shorter, I should go here". Then, they realize - there is no person there to take my ticket and they FREEZE. This is where the danger begins and my blood boils. Society would be better off if they would just drive through and take their ticket for being stupid, but NOOOO. Instead, they think the smart thing to do on an Interstate, in a crowd, is to put their car in reverse to get into a better lane.

So, IF DONE RIGHT people who don't have Fast Lane but go through the lane (like a normal car) get a ticket, a small one first, then on each subsequent offense doubling it. But, people who reverse in the lane have their license suspended immediately. By immediately, I mean someone comes out of the booth takes their keys and license and explains how they are lucky they live in America, because in other cultures they would be slain.

Just to be clear: If you are approaching a toll area, and there are lanes marked in large signs indicating something that you don't understand, you aren't part of the program. DO NOT GO INTO THAT LANE.

[UPDATE: 12:18pm] Some punctuation corrected.

An experiment in braindumping

For years I have been engaging my lovely wife in dialog over current events, politics and other topics of interest to me (and occasionally to her). I love the debate, the challenge she provides, and the chance to learn and play out my thoughts. It is she who has encouraged me most to put these thoughts to writing. So, here it is, my experiment with broadening the audience for my (please don't call them) rantings.

Initially, as you probably did, I thought she was encouraging me in order to lessen her burden to carry on these occasionally tedious or wholly theoretical conversations. If that is true, I understand. Either way, I encourage other visitors to show me the light where they think I am off base or delusional.

We'll see how long this experiment lasts.