Some decisions are just horrifically bad.
Like, really, REALLY bad.
Let’s take for a moment a decision by Gateway computer around 2005.
“Hey guys! Let’s add in some software so when the computer monitor is disconnected from it’s computer it goes into this horribly annoying mode. Since the only reason we put monitors on other computers is when they’re stolen, right?”
Most of you can already see the disaster this causes. Businesses that move parts between computers comes to mind, or my case when these monitors end up on the used market.
I unwittingly bought one of these monitors from Goodwill. It tested fine (at first) and seemed good and pretty.
Then, I saw this pop up:
Oh, lovely… but this can probably be fixed I figured. Most companies understand how their bad decisions go awry.
Hrrm, so the software was made by a third party company, not good.
All the download links to said software don;t even work anymore, also not good.
Sending an email to their support email on their site returns deliverable, hopelessly bad.
So, I get to throw this pretty 22″ LCD monitor in the garbage.
All because Gateway decided it would make a horrible decision, and never bother to put out a fix when that decision went to shit.
Thanks Gateway! Oh, wait, I mean Acer that bought them in 2007.
So, someone I know just bought a Windows manual for 80$.
Yep, the good old paper copy “book”. I cannot stop wondering why.
What could possibly be worth so much, that is not already online?
Feels like just a blatant marketing gimmick to get people to spend money for outdated information.
A quote from the head of technology at the architecture firm i’m working for. It was in response to me asking about timelines and deadlines relating to technical work on support tickets. (IE. They can wait.)
Lately something has really been annoying me.
I recently went to a concert, and was frisked when I came in.
Not for weapons, they didn’t care about my pocket knife.
Nor for electronics, they let me in with my digital camera, cellphone and hotspot.
Not for misc strangeness either, as I was wearing a chainmail shirt and belt and they let me in with those.
Or the charging cables, earplugs, medicine, coins tricks…
What they were looking for, was food. And they went through all of my little belt pouches to find it. In the end I was forced to throw away the two energy bars that I carried around.
Because, or course, they wanted me to buy their very overpriced food.
The concert was already expensive, 70$ per ticket.
But they wanted to make me destroy 5$ of my property to get in. (I walked from home, 20 minutes, I couldn’t just “put them in the car”. And they had already scanned me in.)
That irks me. Why do we allow businesses to have such strong controls over things? Do we seriously give up that much of our rights to what we do with our property?
It’s pathetic that we allow profit in such wasteful ways.
So I was listening to NPR this morning. And they were talking about how Los Angeles is voting to raise it’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Of course they had the usual experts there talking about how jobs will be lost because the money has to come from somewhere.
And I call bullshit.
You have people at the top of business, in all sectors, taking home insanely massive paychecks. And as a society we allow that to be subsidized on the backs of the poorest workers while complaining that they can’t make money without slave wages.
Frankly, i’m sick of this shit. Rather than a minimum wage I propose a “maximum wage”. No person can be paid more than half a Million dollars per year in net pay, bonuses and stock.
If you need more than half a million dollars per year to maintain your “standard of living”, then fuck you for being a greedy pretentious prick. The excess will be taxed and a substantial share of it distributed to those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
It’s past time to keep paying the insane salaries of the feudal lords from the blood, sweat and tears of the peasant masses. The system is a sham. We need to break out the torches and pitchforks and take back equality.
When I get ready to move again one of my top priorities will be high speed internet.
And by that I mean faster than Comcast or Centurylink DSL. Something TRULY high speed.
Anyone know if this has a modern-day equivalent? I would love to get involved with it.
So, I went down to a temp agency today to sign up. They had a myriad of forms to be completed of course. One in particular caught my eye.
It was the opt-out form for their “binding arbitration” agreement. While I could (And had to) turn in the agreement to allow binding arbitration to be used in the event of a dispute on the spot the opt-out form had to be faxed or emailed to a specific department.
I challenge this. It appears quite clear it is a way to make sure recruits end up forced into binding arbitration if there is an issue. Very few will actually follow up and send in the opt-out form. (I took a photo of mine and mailed it while waiting for the interview)
I suppose it’s just one more example of corporate USA complicating things in the hope it will gain them an edge.
So, somehow I ended up on a mailing list for the Washington Times. Which is odd because I do not recall ever signing up for such a thing, and checking my back emails shows no signup confirmation.
The ad is titled: “Why is THIS Bible verse changing atheists’ minds?”
Now, maybe i’m asking a lot, but I don’t expect media outlets that I might be interested in readon news on to thump the bible. It’s apparently from this nutjob company called “Health Revelations” that claims there is a cure for cancer hidden in the bible.
And after a lengthy sales pitch explaining how you can cure your cancer it asks you to claim your “free gifts” by of course signing up to pay them money: “1-Year Subscription (12 issues) for just $74.00”
Now I know the Times is just looking for advertising revenue, but it strikes me as poor judgment when their ads are more likely to stop people from reading their site than to get them clicks and more readers. This is what I expect from Faux (Fox) News, not “real” news sources.
Recently I applied for an opening I found on Craigslist. I received the following reply:
“Thank you for your interest in this position. It would appear yours skills are above the stated entry level for this position. We will keep your resume on file should any positions befitting of your skills open in the near future.”
I consistently hear from conservative minded folks that “There is always work out there if you want it bad enough, you just have to swallow your pride”. Well fucking guess what, sometimes there isn’t, even if you do swallow your pride.
What I also think is funny is this came from the “QA Manager” and contains a spelling error.
So we are all aware that when we use our bank accounts there are multiple types and layers of security.
When we login to them online that is one secure portal. Often with multiple passwords, verification questions, pictures we choose to make sure it is us, etc. And when we use the cards and the bank takes or stores that information it is another layer. Unfortunately I cannot tell you how secure that one is or what methods they use because, well, they don’t tell us.
But increasingly it seems that back end is less secure than we think. The recent Target mess showed how the point of sale terminals can be hacked. And just today the replacement card I got after that compromise was itself somehow compromised.
Someone tried to run a large transaction at a drug store 2800 miles away. While this transaction failed due to some level of security the bank was still unable to tell me if the attempted transaction was via Credit Card signature or PIN code.
Let’s think about this a second. So we are relying on their security, which does not record the simplest of details of an attempted transaction.
I don’t know about you, but this worries me far more than having my card compromised.
So Android is “supposedly” open source.
And in general that is true. But I found this article: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary/3/ that shows that Google really controls Android much more than I realized.
As the article states:
While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android—Google’s Android—and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. That’s right, joining the OHA requires a company to sign its life away and promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.
Acer was bit by this requirement when it tried to build devices that ran Alibaba’s Aliyun OS in China. Aliyun is an Android fork, and when Google got wind of it, Acer was told to shut the project down or lose its access to Google apps. Google even made a public blog post about it:
While Android remains free for anyone to use as they would like, only Android compatible devices benefit from the full Android ecosystem. By joining the Open Handset Alliance, each member contributes to and builds one Android platform—not a bunch of incompatible versions.
This makes life extremely difficult for the only company brazen enough to sell an Android fork in the west: Amazon. Since the Kindle OS counts as an incompatible version of Android, no major OEM is allowed to produce the Kindle Fire for Amazon. So when Amazon goes shopping for a manufacturer for its next tablet, it has to immediately cross Acer, Asus, Dell, Foxconn, Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and ZTE off the list. Currently, Amazon contracts Kindle manufacturing out to Quanta Computer, a company primarily known for making laptops. Amazon probably doesn’t have many other choices.
While I use and enjoy Android this is rather disconcerting to learn. I suppose time will tell how this all plays out.
So recently I bought a used 2000 Toyota Sienna Van.
I learned that it uses transponder keys to allow the car to start only if the correct chip in the key is near the ignition.
These keys sell for an astronomical amount (Home Depot wanted 80$ for one. The Toyota Dealership wanted to sell me a blank for 80$ and then charge me another 80$ to program it).
Needless to say I did not want to pay this to have a few spare keys made. Enter, the internet.
I searched and found that there was a procedure to make the car add another key to it’s database by pushing pedals in a specific combination. This meant that I could program my own keys. Now I needed keys to program. I found blanks on Ebay, from a seller that had a feedback score high enough to suggest their success rate was high. (It helped that the keys were 8$ each, so if i failed I would only be out 16$ from trying two keys) I got the keys and opened one up, it contained just a simple chip. (hard to get, but not really “special”)
Now to program them. After about 20 minutes I managed to make the programming sequence work, and I had 4 master transponder keys. Now, the cutting.
When I buy a vehicle I like to go to the dealership and get a new blank cut from the VIN. This blank becomes the “uncirculated master” if you will (I got a basic key from Toyota cut from the VIN for 10$. It won’t start the car but it’s the best key to make more keys off of). I was not about to try and ask Toyota to cut my new aftermarket transponder blanks, i’m sure they would have had a fit.
I heard online that often key cutters in big box stores or hardware stores will refuse to cut blanks, and I’ve had the same kind of thing happen to me. I guess they want to sell you their key blanks and might think you’re breaking the law. (Tho frankly getting the blanks is often more useful when breaking the law, but I digress).
Enter the small local locksmith. I found one just down the road from where I worked, went in and showed him the 2 transponders and the master. I said “I need those 2 keys cut from this master”, “no problem” he said and grabbed them up. 5 minutes later I had 2 cut keys for an astoundingly low 2$ each. No mess, no fuss, I was so elated that I gave him 10$ and said to keep the change.
The cutting was good, and both worked perfectly. End cost? 15$ per transponder key (including the cost of the VIN master) and some brain CPU cycles.
The next time you need a “special” key for your car, remember they aren’t all THAT special. Likely you can get one yourself FAR cheaper than the dealership is gouging you for it.
I didn’t expect the place to be deserted at 11:30.
So, Sarah and I have two original Droid phones under an unlimited data plan with almost no minutes of usage. We pay $140 per month for both.
But, now we want to add a mobile hotspot to the plan since we have a new Nexus 7 tablet we want data on and the phones cannot do the infrastructure WI-fi the tablet needs to connect to.
But, we can’t do that. Because Verizon does not want us to have our unlimited data plans anymore.
If we went to a new data plan to add the hotspot at our current data usage amounts we would end up paying $240 per month for all 3 devices. (In short paying 4g rates for limited data on our old 3G phones, and there is no phone play as cheap as the one we have now which must also be changed) And of course Verizon wants us to renew our 2-year contract if we change plans (We are currently a year out of contract and like it that way, we’re waiting for something to replace the Droids).
By comparison a T-mobile hotspot is $35 per month for a limited amount of data, but with no overage fees (They just slow down overage services) and a free device.
So much for the benefits of being a customer for 3 years and paying $5000 for their service, they offered me zilch.
It’s no secret I’m totally against the flood of prescription drug commercials targeting the consumer, asking them to go to their doctor and say “I need this pill”.
But it’s gone overboard. Last night I noticed one of these commercials on TV:
Which clearly act like doing your doctor’s job is a bad idea, yet what exactly is it if you go to your doctor and say “I want Nexium”, IT’S DOING YOUR DOCTOR’S JOB!
I know, I know, consumers are idiots. But I can dream…
Recently I caught wind of the “classic” or “retro” shaving movement. For those unaware this is the concept that the evolution of the razor ended with the invention of the “safety razor” in 1880 (Yeah, 130 years ago…) and the invention of it’s replaceable blades in 1901.
Simply put it makes the case that from that point forward companies competed to “buzzword enhance” the razor rather than actually improve it’s practical functioning. (IE. modern fights between Shick and Gilette over who has rights to a 3/4/5 bladed disposable razor are just fluff, and that these devices do not do a better job of shaving than the razors our grandparents shaved with)
Since I despise shaving with an electric razor, and disposable modern razors don’t do much better I figured I would add a badger brush and a safety razor to my Christmas wishlist. Tonight I got around to trying them.
In a phrase? Holy crap.
First there was the old-fashioned thick lather and brush, then the heavy steel razor, the whole process just exuded a feeling of timelessness compared to a can of foam and a plastic razor. On top of that there is a certain comfort to knowing that you can get safety blades almost anywhere in the world and very cheap compared to modern plastic disposable cartridges. Along with that the razor itself will probably outlast me. Also gone was the clogged disposable razor issue that I had come to despise.
The process will take some getting used to, it’s much easier to razor-burn yourself than with a disposable (especially if one rushes), but the shave is much closer as well. I was probably a tad overly cautious, but repeating the process bordered on enjoyable.
In the end it was an excellent example of how the new ways are not always really an improvement over the old.
The Washington State government is whining that it won’t be able to find the money to back the proposed ballot initiative I-1163, which calls for better licensing and regulation of long-term care workers.
What is really funny is another version of this same ballot measure passed in 2008 (I-1029) with an overwhelming 72.53% of the vote and yet, they couldn’t find the money to pay for that one either.
They’ve been all about cuts and not nearly enough about increasing revenue (IE. raising taxes).
So, when is it time to say that democracy is more important than the local politicians that don’t dare to pass tax increases? The people have voted for this measure, the government should fund it, end of story.
So “New guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture would eliminate potatoes altogether from school breakfasts and drastically reduce the amount of potatoes served in lunches.”
And of course politicians from potato-heavy states like Idaho and Maine are up in arms about this.
Since of course everyone knows that politicians and farmers know what is truly healthy, not doctors and nutritionists.
Yeah, I know, “Who?”.
Take a minute and look at your computer, look at all the software you are running, look at all the websites you visit, look at all the portable devices you use. Chances are almost all of them owe a big thanks to Dennis Ritchie.
Dennis Ritchie is the writer of the “C” programming language. Between it and it’s derivatives they are responsible for almost all the software you run or use online. It is also the basis of most operating systems that run your computers as well
Yeah, he wasn’t rich, or powerful, or famous, but his idea and work was the very foundation of our modern computing system.
Perhaps you should know who he was.
So I ended up with a dozen Blue Jacket carbon arrows, and needed nocks for them.
Which turned out to be a bit of a problem. The arrows are 230s, which means they are .23″ in diameter. That’s not a size anyone makes parts for anymore since Blue Jackets have been out of production for many years now.
So after multiple failed attempts to check at archery stores I rustled up nocks that normally go on kites at Goodwinds. As it turns out they fit perfectly.
Goodwinds also deserves a nod for their reduction of their shipping costs since they’re only an hour away from me by car, and their good attitude with my over the phone while I ask about archery uses for kite parts.
On to fletching.
The Motorola Droid has now been listed as â€œend of lifeâ€ in the Verizon inventory system. Yes, your beloved Motorola Droid is finally going to be phased out. In the upcoming few weeks, the Droid will be completely phased out
Motorola and Verizon will be replacing the Droid with the Droid 2.
Droid users should not be disheartened since the Motorola Droid is a very popular phone among the modding community. The Motorola Droid sold like hot cakes when it was launched. It was and still is one of the most popular android phone out there. The successor to the Droid â€“ the Droid 2 will feature a 1 GHz OMAP processor, and 512MB of RAM. The sad news is that the Droid 2 will feature a locked bootloader, which will severely limit its modding capability.
The Droid 2 is expected to be released in August, and will be announced my Verizon within the next few weeks.
It will be nice when we can buy unlocked hardware and add it to the network of our choice.
At least I got my Droid when I could.
Custom ROMs and Motorola’s Android Handsets
by Lori Fraleigh (lorifraleigh) on 02-12-2010 04:41 PM – last edited on 02-12-2010 06:01 PM
My name is Lori Fraleigh and I manage the technical team behind the MOTODEV program at Motorola. We provide tools, like MOTODEV Studio, and a variety of technical services including application testing services, developer education materials traditional technical support and serve as experts on our discussion boards. Today I’m stepping a bit outside of my day-to-day job to try to answer some questions we have seen not only on MOTODEV, but on various other sites. I’ve worked with a number of other Motorolans to bring you the information in this post.
For the Android application developer, MOTODEV provides a wealth of resources to help you create and bring your applications to market. We provide a comprehensive Eclipse-based development environment, MOTODEV Studio, as well as SDK add-ons which provide emulator images that represent the software on our handsets. To aid developers who may not have access to physical handsets, or who may wish to test on a carrier network unavailable in their physical location, we provide access to handsets via the Motorola Virtual Device Lab at DeviceAnywhere. All Motorola application developer resources can be found at http://developer.motorola.com.
We understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with Android system development and re-flashing phones. For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes. At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers, and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.
The use of open source software, such as the Linux kernel or the Android platform, in a consumer device does not require the handset running such software to be open for re-flashing. We comply with the licenses, including GPLv2, for each of the open source packages in our handsets. We post appropriate notices as part of the legal information on the handset and post source code, where required, at http://opensource.motorola.com. Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years. This practice is driven by a number of different business factors. When we do deviate from our normal practice, such as we did with the DROID, there is a specific business reason for doing so. We understand this can result in some confusion, and apologize for any frustration.
We do hear your feedback and read your posts – whether on our MOTODEV discussion boards, our Owners’ Forums, our Facebook pages, Twitter, or a variety of other sites on the web. We take the time to understand the issue and then pass the information on to the appropriate product (or other) teams within Motorola. We then try to respond with explanations or updates as we get the answers. Thank you for your continued feedback.
If you have further questions, comments, and feedback, you can comment on this post as well as use the following sites:
Use of open-source software at Motorola: http://opensource.motorola.com
MOTODEV and Android application development on Motorola handsets: http://community.developer.motorola.com
End-user support for handset owners: https://supportforums.motorola.com/community/google-android
I guess they failed to recognize the depth of people’s outrage with this because comments were closed after 54 postings and 25,000 views.
I’m an end-user, not a developer, and I want control of my phone. Is that wrong? According to Verizon, Sprint, AT&T or T-Mobile it sure is. Which means it’s more than likely they leveraged weight upon Motorola to lock down their devices.
Another win for the big corporations and another loss for the end user.
So what’s come to the top of the pot in the US recently?
We’re found that both BP and the Government were grossly wrong about the flow rate of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (No shock there really, what company isn’t going to make it’s figures as low as possible when it’s impact on the environment is concerned).
We’re learned that Transocean who owns the rig has received 411 million dollars from it’s insurance company, but is trying to use a law written in 1851 to limit it’s liability to 21 million total.
To top it off the last flight of the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for this afternoon, and the final flight for all the shuttles is a November launch of Discovery. The replacement launch vehicle “Orion” has a scheduled launch date of 2015, anyone that seriously thinks that is going to be on target is fooling themselves.
The US has ignored the job of the Federal Government to push the envelope for the good of the nation and instead now has handed off such trivial things to private corporations. Those corporations are now almost completely running the show, able to do almost anything and ignore the consequences of their actions.
In the end tho isn’t it the people that need to do something about this? Given the great divide in US politics I don’t see that happening for more than 20 years.
So all we can really do now is keep fooling ourselves into thinking that we matter while of course remembering to bow to our corporate masters who demand our money and ruin our environment. Yeah, I am no more thrilled about this idea than you are.
Thanks to the Supreme Court corporate money can now flow into political campaigns with reckless abandon.
If money is now considered speech then those with more money have more right to speech.
So much for the average voter actually having a meaningful voice anymore.
I noticed this on Zdnet, it’s well worth reading.
Why Raid 5 stops working in 2009
By Robin Harris, July 18th, 2007
The storage version of Y2k? No, itâ€™s a function of capacity growth and RAID 5â€™s limitations. If you are thinking about SATA RAID for home or business use, or using RAID today, you need to know why.
RAID 5 protects against a single disk failure. You can recover all your data if a single disk breaks. The problem: once a disk breaks, there is another increasingly common failure lurking. And in 2009 it is highly certain it will find you.
While disks are incredibly reliable devices, they do fail. Our best data – from CMU and Google – finds that over 3% of drives fail each year in the first three years of drive life, and then failure rates start rising fast.
With 7 brand new disks, you have ~20% chance of seeing a disk failure each year. Factor in the rising failure rate with age and over 4 years you are almost certain to see a disk failure during the life of those disks.
But youâ€™re protected by RAID 5, right? Not in 2009.
SATA drives are commonly specified with an unrecoverable read error rate (URE) of 10^14. Which means that once every 100,000,000,000,000 bits, the disk will very politely tell you that, so sorry, but I really, truly canâ€™t read that sector back to you.
One hundred trillion bits is about 12 terabytes. Sound like a lot? Not in 2009.
Disk capacities double
Disk drive capacities double every 18-24 months. We have 1 TB drives now, and in 2009 weâ€™ll have 2 TB drives.
With a 7 drive RAID 5 disk failure, youâ€™ll have 6 remaining 2 TB drives. As the RAID controller is busily reading through those 6 disks to reconstruct the data from the failed drive, it is almost certain it will see an URE.
So the read fails. And when that happens, you are one unhappy camper. The message â€œwe canâ€™t read this RAID volumeâ€ travels up the chain of command until an error message is presented on the screen. 12 TB of your carefully protected – you thought! – data is gone. Oh, you didnâ€™t back it up to tape? Bummer!
So now what?
The obvious answer, and the one that storage marketers have begun trumpeting, is RAID 6, which protects your data against 2 failures. Which is all well and good, until you consider this: as drives increase in size, any drive failure will always be accompanied by a read error. So RAID 6 will give you no more protection than RAID 5 does now, but youâ€™ll pay more anyway for extra disk capacity and slower write performance.
Gee, paying more for less! I can hardly wait!
The Storage Bits take
Users of enterprise storage arrays have less to worry about: your tiny costly disks have less capacity and thus a smaller chance of encountering an URE. And your specâ€™d URE rate of 10^15 also helps.
There are some other fixes out there as well, some fairly obvious and some, Iâ€™m certain, waiting for someone much brighter than me to invent. But even today a 7 drive RAID 5 with 1 TB disks has a 50% chance of a rebuild failure. RAID 5 is reaching the end of its useful life.
So I stopped by their little shop the other day, and they have a nice selection.
The people however seem to be a little full of themselves. For instance if you are going to argue about technology with your customer it helps to know what you’re talking about. Telling me a USB port could not be put on a detector because it wouldn’t be waterproof when the detector itself is not, and waterproof USB ports do in fact exist does not show much wisdom.
Also one could say it’s not wise to try and argue religion when your customer, especially when they obviously do not see the issue the same way you do.
These are both good reasons why I myself am not in business.
Would this stop me from shopping there? Not likely, but it does make me not want to go ask them for help.
I love this film, it’s totally cheesy but it makes me laugh.
(Direct Download link: Here)
I just love the way they did this commercial. Took me forever to find a copy of it, it’s around 10 years old.
(Direct Download link: Here)
An epic failure indeed.
Frankly I don’t think I ever bought anything there.
If I recall right they had terribly high prices and poor sales staff, they had a habit of firing old higher-paid folks and bringing in cheap staff with zero experience. Let’s all put them in the category of how NOT to run a business.
My co-worker recently sent out an email with the following in it:
“Something I have said for many years, if your job seems easy, you aren’t trying hard enough.”
I dispute this. As this comment stands it implies that no matter how hard you work you will never finish your tasks at hand. Furthermore it suggests that there is something wrong with being good at your work so that it is easy to accomplish a days work and that if that work is easy you simply should have been able to accomplish more.
I tend to go by the saying below:
“Work smarter, not harder”
This implies that the goal is to accomplish the work at hand in the most efficient and easiest method possible. Making sure that the attainment of the goal is the first priority, not the increase of the sweat on one’s brow in accomplishing that goal.
Alot has been made lately of the possibly “protectionist” agenda of the Obama administration.
Supposedly if we do not allow completely free trade with countries like China then it will be bad for the USA.
But how exactly? The only people I see losing out are the ones making millions in CEO positions because they choose to ship manufacturing off to where there are no worker rights and where wages are paid in cents not dollars.
I hardly see the current trade situation as “free”, in previous times we called it “exploitation”.
The need to bring jobs back to the USA to make things for US use and export to other nations is a basis of a stable economy.
Now i’m not a big fan of everything the NRA stands for, but I am a believer in the principle behind the Second Amendment.
What I cannot fathom is the NRA “Special Offer” email I got today from their “Wine Club”.
I have to say it isn’t the most brilliant idea to pair a group of gun owners with alcohol (not to mention the fact that i’m sure 99% of them are beer drinkers with no interest in wine).
I stumbled onto this the other day, much of it was completely new information to me.
Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates
Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling
Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy â€“ backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China â€“ is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as “one of the great menaces of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell â€“ and some justice on their side.
Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the “golden age of piracy” â€“ from 1650 to 1730 â€“ the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage Bluebeard that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often saved from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can’t? In his book Villains Of All Nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence.
If you became a merchant or navy sailor then â€“ plucked from the docks of London’s East End, young and hungry â€“ you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O’ Nine Tails. If you slacked often, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.
Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied â€“ and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively, without torture. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century”.
They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly â€“ and subversively â€“ that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal Navy.” This is why they were romantic heroes, despite being unproductive thieves.
The words of one pirate from that lost age, a young British man called William Scott, should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirateing to live.” In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since â€“ and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury â€“ you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.”
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation â€“ and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”
This is the context in which the “pirates” have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia â€“ and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence”.
No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters â€“ especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.” William Scott would understand.
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won’t act on those crimes â€“ the only sane solution to this problem â€“ but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world’s oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.
The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know “what he meant by keeping possession of the sea.” The pirate smiled, and responded: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.” Once again, our great imperial fleets sail â€“ but who is the robber?
So Jennifer (still in Phoenix, AZ) and I were talking.
She said her boyfriend tried to buy some handgun ammo the other day, but couldn’t. Wal-mart, Big-5, Sports Authority were all completely sold out.
It’s obvious why, but what is interesting is it has not been mentioned in any news source anywhere.
Seems that the giant “software as service” system Salesforce.com was completely down for around 45 minutes today.
What do you when you’re entire business had moved into the cloud, and then the cloud crashes?
Well, I finally got tethering to work between my Moto Q9m phone and my Ubuntu 8.10 Aspire One.
(For you non-techs that means I can get to the internet from my notebook computer using my wireless phone’s internet connection)
Speed isn’t awesome, but it’s not dialup:
Do enjoy the holiday, brought to you by capitalism and the hyped need for massive materialism.
Don’t forget, spend, spend, spend if you want to be a good little American.
So today I got a letter in the mail from one of the banks I have a credit card with.
This letter is in reference to your credit card issued by Barclay’s Bank Delaware.
In a recent review of your account, we noticed that you have not used your Mastercard account for a long time. To help you better manage your credit accounts, we have closed your account.
Please destroy any credit card(s) associated with this account as well as any convenience checks you may have in your possession, as they are no longer valid.
Now I have *perfect* credit. I had not used the card in about 6 months, which does not seem like an overly long time to me.
They are owned by the Barclay Group out of London, so they were not part of the TARP program at all, but cutting off lines of credit to people that are extremely low risk does not seem like what any market needs right now.
So, who else is tired of having to deal with crappy tech support on the phone, in chat or via email?
You know, where they make you go over stupid things that you’ve already tried. “Please power-cycle the machine again sir, even tho we know you already did”.
Now i’m all in favor of going down the list of things to try since nobody is perfect, but it would be nice if support asked “So what have you already tried sir?” once in while.
Or perhaps when companies pay for support contracts they can have “levels” to them. “Oh, Hello Mr. Smith, I see your company paid for our “Guru-level” support contract, please let me know what you need. I see, you need a replacement power supply, we’ll send one out to you immediately.” rather than “Would you please try this, and this, and that”.
Admittedly sometimes the knowledgeable user is wrong about what is broken, but the extra cost of the contract could easily offset those costs.
The reason this comes to mind is because today we’re being told we have to wait 2 days to have someone in the data center call support for a product we know via remote monitor is dead and we cannot test because there is nobody at the data center where it failed. Not the best of situations.
I know this is a tad old, but I wanted to to make mention of it nonetheless. So much for a free market spurring competition.
Congress questions high cost of texting
By Stephanie Condon
September 9, 2008 4:25 PM PDT
The price of text messaging has doubled industry-wide in the last three years, and Congress wants to know why.
Sen Herb Kohl, chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter Tuesday to the four major wireless carriers–AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile–asking them to explain the dramatic price increases for text messaging services.
“Some industry experts contend that these increased rates do not appear to be justified by any increases in the costs associated with text messaging services, but may instead be a reflection of a decrease in competition, and an increase in market power, among your four companies,” Kohl said in the letter.
The cost of text messaging since 2005 has increased 100 percent from 10 cents to 20 cents for all four providers. Mobile operators have reaped huge profits from the increased prices, CNET reported in July.
Also, the number of major carriers in the United States has shrunk from six to four in recent years, while the remaining carriers continue to acquire their regionally based competitors, Kohl said in the letter. He noted that the four carriers combined currently serve more than 90 percent of wireless subscribers in the U.S.
“I am concerned with whether this market consolidation, and increased market power by the major carriers, has contributed to this doubling of text messaging rates over the last three years,” Kohl said.
The senator from Wisconsin asked the companies to provide evidence of how their respective text messaging pricing structures differs from those of their competitors, along with evidence of what factors led to price increases. He also asked the wireless carriers to provide data on the utilization of text messaging from 2005 to 2008 and a price comparison of text messaging services to other services such as Internet access over wireless devices. Kohl asked for a response by October 6.
The similar price increases, coming at similar times, Kohl said, “is hardly consistent with the vigorous price competition we hope to see in a competitive marketplace.”
Some of you will know what i’m talking about.
(The Ribbon as it appears in MS Word 2007)
In the newest versions of MS Office there is the new “Ribbon”, rather than the normal toolbars.
For those of us familiar with the old style of such things we’re screwed:
“There is no way to delete or replace the Ribbon with the toolbars and menus from the earlier versions of Microsoft Office.”
And of course there is no way to complain to MS about it either. Figures eh?
I just love it when we get force-fed a new standard.
As I have said before, only socialism for the rich.
The government only steps in and takes control of things when it benefits rich people.
If you have not read this essay by Neal Stephenson regarding Operating Systems, or have only read the 1999 original version, I suggest you read this 2004 version, annotated by Garrett Birkel.
It brings the original more up to date.
What is up with the price of gas?
By C. Marcus Parr
Who’s responsible for rising gas prices?
Asking this question makes sense when we’re paying so much to fill the tank. Seven years ago, the price for a barrel of crude oil was $30. It recently reached a high of $137. Oil not merely doubled or tripled in price during President Bush’s administration, but more than quintupled.
In all fairness, the staggering cost of gasoline cannot be laid solely at the feet of George W. Bush. Several factors are at play the falling value of the U.S. dollar, a diminishing supply (or scarcity) of oil versus rising demand, and speculators in the futures market.
The dollar has lost about 60 percent of its value against the euro over the last seven years. It has lost even more value against gold and petroleum. When the dollar drops in value against foreign currency, Americans pay more for a barrel of oil on the international market.
Alternatively, when speculators set oil futures at $130 a barrel, we pay more at the pump and the United States trade deficit increases. Our annual oil import bill has risen from $106 billion in 2006 to approximately $500 billion today.
Are speculators at the root of this problem? According to T. Boone Pickens, legendary Texas oilman, the futures market is not a ‘bubble’ about to burst. Oil futures are rising because of scarcity and high demand, not speculation. George Soros, the hedge fund billionaire, counters Pickens’ argument by saying the global oil price explosion is caused by commodity futures speculation. He believes that speculation is exaggerating the true price of oil.
Are we running out of oil? Some say we’ve already passed Peak Oil. Finding and extracting crude has become difficult for oil companies. Today, worldwide demand for oil is outpacing production.
No matter which view is right or who is at fault, the world economy runs on gasoline and we’re burning it faster than we can pump it out of the ground.
We need to reduce our energy consumption through conservation. This is a good policy for our pocketbooks and the environment. Commute with others. Use mass transit. We have a marvelous bus system in Sandy: Fareless SAM. It’s clean, it’s safe and it’s free!
Save energy by making your home more energy-efficient: insulate, put in new windows or passive solar systems and buy energy-friendly appliances. We need to buy local produce and goods rather than imported goods. Many of us already have vegetable gardens or shop at local farmers’ markets. Yes, it’s true that conservation will take a major change in the way we live, but these habits will pump money into our local economy, help conserve energy and help build a sustainable community.
So I’ve been noticing more and more the rift widening.
And I’ve really been wondering, why?
I’m going to list it as I see it.
#1 Conservatives believe they have a god-given right to anything and everything.
Think about it, they want to anything no matter how bad it is, they want to drive huge cars that get bad gas mileage, they don’t care about the environment, they want to keep every cent of every dollar they ever make for themselves.
In short, they don’t like anyone telling them they have to do ANYTHING.
Why? The USA has become the land of absolute individualism, “Do what you want as long as it directly doesn’t hurt anyone else”, but what about indirectly hurting others? When did that stop mattering? We just think “Gee, that’s not my concern” and go on with our wasteful consumer culture figuring it’ll all work itself out, and we don;t have to be part of the solution.
#2 Liberals see a moral reason to be concerned about indirect hurts.
My car hurts the environment, my choice of hiring illegals or not hurts them and the economy, my bad business tactics are morally hurtful.
Many people seem to think this is somehow weakness, “They just feel guilty for everything”, but in reality it’s an enlightened view that we cannot just care about ourselves.
The USA teaches you that money is hard to get, it’s rare, and you’ll have to work your ass off for it. Along with that you have to pay a ton of money to go to school, so once you have paid for your school you have no desire to make less than possible.
Is this the only way? In Denmark for example school is free.
Yep, it costs nothing to go to school.
If I went to school to learn how to do what I really wanted to do, would there be a learned behavior to somehow feel I needed to earn a ton of money? Highly doubtful.
Conservatives do not believe in “Externalities”. They like to believe that all the people that are poor, homeless, on welfare, etc. want to be there. “If they don’t want to be poor they would just work harder”. In truth why should they have to? So long as they are contributing members of society in some way why shouldn’t we help them to have at least a basic level of comfort?
It’s an evil word, I know. The forced redistribution of wealth.
But how is it that we still love Robin Hood?
He stole from the rich and gave to the poor, that’s exactly what taxes do, why? Because the rich don’t want to give up their money to help anyone else. Is it wrong for the state to force them to?
Liberals say morally it is our obligation to help others.
Conservatives see it as wage slavery, that they shouldn’t have to give anyone anything or have morals forced on them.
When are we going to start accepting that there is more to life than trying to get ahead for just ourselves and start living in the “United” States of America rather than the divided states of individualism?
Sooner than later I hope.
Yet another ritual stolen from the Pagans by the Christians.
Go out and do your duty to spend money and give gifts to add to the projected 16.9 Billion dollar spending spree during the “holiday”.
My replacement versamount came in today.
The whole unit too, not just a few odd parts to fix the old one.
I’m quite happy. Definitely more than I expected to get when I broke the thing in the first place.
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