Whereas, I want to beat my head agasint a wall

00.56.50 - Mark

In the midst of the Iraq war, a failing economy, and other national issues, our Congress has found one issue so important that they managed to spare the time to recognize it. That issue is The Importance of Christmas (and Christians).

The fact that this bullshit resolution was not only introduced, but passed with 372 votes is fucking terrifying. I know congress critters aren't big on actually reading the things they vote on but surely they're obligated to read the Constitution a time or two. This thing just barely skirts a 1st amendment violation.

I'd try and argue it on points, but if I've learned one thing this holiday season, Christians get extra irrational at Christmas. Instead I'll just lift a paragraph from John Rodgers (excellent) post on the resolution:

... Christianity's been acting kind of needy lately. Like, "crazy girlfriend who suddenly believes you're thinking about how to pack your shit in ways she won't notice and sneak it out to the car, and so perversely thinks the way to keep you from bolting is to demand you tell her she's super pretty every hour, which, ironically, is what actually prompts you into thinking about packing your shit, even though you weren't before but now ..." needy.

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Missing Myth Busted

11.34.17 - Mark

Mythbuster's take on Plane on a Treadmill was originally slated to air last night (just like the interwebs expected) but at some point in the last couple of moths got pushed back to January 30th, at least according to the show's executive producer. Still someone at Discovery really screwed up, and it doesn't look like they've done a lot to appease the viewers.

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Mythbusters piss off the Interwebs

23.23.52 - Mark

Tonight the Discovery Channel royally pissed off the interwebs. It's been hyped for a couple of months that tonight's episode of Mythbusters would feature "Plane on a Tradmill" which has been an internet meme for a couple years. So like the meme before it the internet took hold of the promised mythbusters episode and has been hyping it for a few weeks. Because of that the Discovery channel probably saw a decent ratings boost tonight, followed by a ratings plummet as the myth turned out to be a no-show. There's a pretty nasty backlash going on right now and will probably go on until Discovery coughs up some plausible explanation for axing the myth and starts offering some profuse appologies.

Until then it looks like Wikipedia is getting vandalized (the main mythbusters article and a few related pages are locked for a week - here's a vandalized copy from of the main article after it was locked), the discovery channel message boards look like they're being swamped (10k+ views on the official PoaT missing myth thread in under an hour), and I got goatse'd when I went to the Discovery sponsored Mythbusters wiki.

I guess the internet is testing the myth of "can a large mob of anonymous people remove a Discovery Channel executive from office"

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Groundhog Hour

01.33.30 - Mark

Physically it feels like it's 2:30 am, but the United States Naval Observatory says it's 1:30am. Gotta love these damned day light savings time changes. The geek in me says cool, free hour, but the fact is it's useless.

While we may have started daylight savings time as a way of conserving energy use, today's society doesn't give a damn. Sure there's the green movement, but look at your average home, office, or school. Chances are you're using artificial light, unless you work outdoors in which case you don't need the government to tell you when to start working anyways.

Shifting around DST this year doesn't add anything to the case for DST either. In fact it probably shows how asinine it really is. I can't count how many devices have gotten fubared by the change, and for no useful reason either. We should have either not changed the time for DST (therefore not fouling up a bunch of devices that had the old dates preprogrammed) or simply get rid of DST (since any device that changes itself allows your to disable DST)

Finally, in our 24/7 world wide economy, I think people know how to make a schedule work for themselves. We don't need to mess with our clocks twice a year when not everyone does the same thing (DST isn't even universally accepted in the USA)

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23.29.38 - Mark

There aren't that many movies that I want to see in theaters anymore, too many horror movies trying to induce involuntary bowel movements, tired parodies of those horror films, and cheesy comedies that while they might not be bad, they're not $10 price of admission good either, however I really wanted to see Grindhouse in theaters. Unfortunately for me the local cinema axed it after a week and I couldn't quite bring myself to driving around 3 hours to see a movie that was 3 hours.

Time passes and movies come to DVD, and yesterday Netflix provided me with a copy of disc 1 of Grindhouse Presents, Death Proof. I liked it, it was fun with everything that was promised - well at least promised by Death Proof fast cars, good explosions, weird plot ideas, classic B movie turn off your brain and enjoy entertainment.

Too bad that the enjoyment of the movie is cut off by all the stuff the distributors left out. While I liked watching the movie, I was interested in Grindhouse because it was offing a whole package. Two movies, cheesy fake trailers, everything. They're trying to screw up this release in every way possible from the near non-existent theatrical release, splitting the damned thing, doing that annoying as hell "exclusively at blockbuster" deal, and overall trying to get customers to pay upwards of $100 to get the movie as originally intended ($25 for Death Proof, $25 for Planet Terror, and probably ~50 for super special un-retarded, trailers and everything edition you know they're planning on releasing). It's almost enough to make me want to go and DL a pirated copy of the theatrical version.

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Corn Farmers Against Piracy

03.11.12 - Mark

In the whole NBC dropping iTunes / iTunes dropping NBC shenanigan the other day, bloggers started point to these comments that NBC made to the FCC on the subject of piracy and it has some great boneheaded comments like

Would the government permit Federal Express or UPS to knowingly operate delivery services in which 60-70% of the payload consisted of contraband, such as illegal or stolen goods?

Because of our nation's interlocking economy, two-thirds of the lost earnings and lost jobs are in industries other than motion picture production. For example, in the absence of movie piracy, video retailers would sell and rent more titles. Movie theaters would sell more tickets and popcorn. Corn growers would earn greater profits and buy more farm equipment.

You know, I think that somehow, those poor corn farmers will survive. They've got some really competent lobbyists on their side. On the other hand, I'm really tempted to go out and register cornfarmersagainstpiracy.org

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Petty Bickering

19.51.36 - Mark

Apparently NBC and Apple are bickering over video on iTunes, with NBC saying they're not going to renew their contract (which expires at the end of the year) with Apple because they want to bundle Movies with TV episodes, jack up the pricing and throw more DRM at non-existent problems. Apple meanwhile is more than happy to let NBC screw themselves.

There are a few things to note in this little mess. First, at $1.99 the networks are making a decent wad of cash. I haven't dug up the numbers recently, but for an hour long prime time TV broadcast the network will make about $.60 per viewer selling advertising spots.

I'm sure what's bugging some idiot executive at NBC is that they can't price the iTunes videos the same as the inevitable cost of the same episode of DVD. While things like Heroes, Studio 60, and other broadcast shows might sell for just under $2 / episode in a box set, some of their cable properties like Battlestar Galactica, Psych, or Monk are well over $2.50 an episode (BSG is over $3.50 an episode on DVD). There's a certain understandable logic in that argument, but it's flimsy at best.

iTunes videos are low quality, limited to a couple of devices, and lack all the special features you get in a DVD box set, so in reality iTunes videos are, bluntly, a rip off already. Jacking the price up any is stupid, but pushing it up to, is one article has placed it, $5 an episode is just shy of mugging your customers and leaving them for dead.

Personally I've got bittorrent.

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Laughtracks suck

00.10.17 - Mark

I'm working my way though Sports Night on DVD due in part to the cancellation of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and I'm getting a harsh reminder of how much laugh tracks suck ass. I think it's more or less a dead practice, but any network executive, or even a producer who doubts the ability of their audience to know a joke when it comes by, probably shouldn't be in showbiz. Also, they should remove the damned things when releasing shows on DVD.

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A note to an idiot.

21.44.42 - Mark

To the fucktard on the trail today
you know who you are
with your two kids and your bike
and and your clear cut road rage

I'm sorry you felt that I cut you off
when I passed your bike
but sometimes it happens-
I did try to steer clear

I didn't hear any cruses
nor heard any brakes
but the trail itself
is only a few feet wide

With no injuries or foals
you sought your revenge
you positioned your bike
at the trails official end

You laid in wait
had your kids in tow
all making your strike
look like a regular break

You let me Dad pass
how nice of you
but before I followed
you made your move

I saw it in you eyes
before you moved your bike
what the fuck were you thinking
trying to get me to fly off my bike!

You're lucky I stopped
or I would have sued -
I'd have gone into the creek or maybe some posts
or worse of all t-boned you or you kids.

I would have taken the bird
maybe even a stern word
but inducing a wreak?
What does that solve?

(Writing this was a hell of a lot more relaxing than the usual long winded rant.)

Prose decoded: I'm traveling a decent speed on my bike when I pass another rider and his kids towards the end of a local and popular bike trail. I ride around a parking lot at end of trail to get an extra 1/8mile or so (its rounds out the mileage) by the time I get back to the trail, the guy and his kids are taking a break. My Dad, whose riding a few dozen yards ahead of me passes just fine. I get within 15 feet of this asshat and he starts moving himself and his bike deliberately into my path, almost entirely blocking the trail entrance. My options are: 1) Slam on the brakes and pray I don't T-bone the asshole and his bike, 2) slam on the brakes and try not to run over his kids, 3) veer off to my right and take a 7 foot fall into a very shallow creek or 4) veer off to the left and run into a nasty vehicle barrier. If I hadn't been watching out for the kids, and saw him moving into my path, I'd be typing this with a bad case of road rash and some nasty cuts. I managed to brake and evade, but his "justification" for his insane game of chicken? "How do you like being cut off?" It almost would have been worth it to.

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Bits and Words

23.15.02 - Mark

While I can appreciate Direct TV wanting to save some bandwidth when customers are requesting interactive menus, I really question the trade off here. Does randomly dropping words and letters from show titles really save that much bandwidth, and does that savings really outweigh the amount of customer frustration it breeds?

Truncated and abbreviated show titles in Direct TV's program guide

Truncated and abbreviated show titles in Direct TV's program guide

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Stupid Schemes

00.26.42 - Mark

You should give blood. Specifically you own blood, and preferably for free. That's the gist of every post I make after attempting to give the American Red Cross some of my own blood. I usually either compliment them for making it a more or less pleasant experience or thrash them for making it damned near impossible to contribute to the betterment of society (with the kinder posts coming after they leach off a pint or two)

Regardless of how messed up the donation process can be, you can't deny that they have good intentions. However, they've got the most ass backwards methods of getting people to take action. I've probably received 3 or 4 different donor cards (so far) and it seems like every month I get the same tacky form letter (the lead in is "S me things are just n t the same with ut it." - Guess what blood type I am) not to mention the plethora of postcards and phone calls I get letting me know of nearly every blood drive within 50 miles the moment they think I can drop another unit. It's pretty insane, especially when you consider that they have some excessively stringent donor requirements.

So when you see chapters of the American Red Cross turning to fear mongering to cajole citizens into action, it's a bit twisted. Fear Mongering Billboard

To be fair, the Red Cross does a lot more than run blood banks. The campaign itself is focusing on disaster preparedness (planning and training) rather than blood donation, but really, how effective is fear mongering? It's barely worked for the Bush administration, and it clearly doesn't work for very long. If anything, I think the Red Cross would be better off appealing directly to people's self-preservation instincts. Something like "Millions of people are affected by disasters every year. They thought they were ready. Are you? (catchy domain name here)"

In the end however, I think the Red Cross and its various chapters would be much better off if they better allocated their resources. When they have my email address, do they really need to send me a small pile of snail mail every year? Is it better to design silly ad campaigns or get volunteers out into schools and churches? Obviously the Red Cross has a ton of resources at its disposal, and it does do a whole lot of good, but I really wish they would find a better way of spreading their messages.

Terrorizing Billboard story via BoingBoing

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Smart as a Foxx

18.10.54 - Mark

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

This week, in a report broadcast on WFDD-FM, 5th District Rep. Virginia Foxx said that former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is not facing trial, has not been indicted and certainly does not face criminal charges. She hadn't heard. When informed that DeLay's trial on criminal charges of money-laundering is pending, Foxx concluded, with no further research, that the indictment was a "trumped-up charge."

This somehow seems in keeping with her conclusion last summer that the war in Iraq was going well.

As many times as I've received some boneheaded reply from Foxx about something in Congress, and trust me I have a few, I really don't have anything to add to this.

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Do not iron.

13.46.31 - Mark

In a way you have to admire the lawsuit culture that has developed in America. Without it we wouldn't have hilarious warning labels like "ďDonít try to dry your phone in a microwave oven." We also wouldn't have contests dedicated to finding the most bizarre and inane warnings.

I might have to look for the book they just released next time I'm in a book store, but until then I can laugh over some of the past winners

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Local "News"

14.40.42 - Mark

There's a reason Local news paper's are suffering in the technology age, and its not just blogs and citizen media:

Local News

It's the fact that stuff like this is showing up on the front page of smaller newspapers. This example is the bottom half of the Mount Airy News' front page for Saturday May 13th. We have 1) a standard end of the year/spring brawl at a local high school 2) Information about a teddy bear "festival" where some shop will be selling $100 + teddy bears and 3) a primer on the history and origins of the Teddy Bear - as ripped off a corporate site and rewritten by some PR person in charge of the festival.

Earlier in the week the same local paper reported on how our city schools are in the "Top ten". They're not quite sure what the top ten list is for, but we're on it (and we're going to dismiss the fact that we're one of the worst school districts in the state - you know, go with the flow.)

Like I said, its not just citizen media that's bringing about the death of local newspapers.

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12 Million People

15.57.43 - Mark

I'm not a fan of my Congress Critter. Foxx has a tendency to pull stupid stunts like voting against perfectly agreeable and well constructed bills to buy Military equiptment in congress. This would be wonderful if she was doing it because she dislikes the idea of war and wants us out of the middle east - and not on the idea that she can claim to support "Financial responcibility" in the federal government come reelection time. Likewise when she voted in favor of a bill on protecting religious freedoms in the United States -- specifically protecting the public's right to pray in school and publically display the 10 Commandments at government facilities.

There are other peeves I have about her (lets just say we disagree on the idea of terrorism) but the most recent is the immigration issue.

She seems to be one of the supporters of the idea that this country can and should deport the 12 Million + illegal aliens from this country. Which begs the question of what exactly 12 million people looks like, and what it would take to move them. Well turns out, 12 Million people is about the population of Illinois.

Now, exactly how practical is it for our government to export the entire population of the state of Illinois to another country? How expencive?

Even if we get 2/3rds of "them", its like deporting everyone in North Carolina. More "resonable" proposals like deporting the "dangerous" ones - which I've heard estimated as being around 3 Million is on par with cutting off Iowa from the rest of the Union.

When you deal with that many people, it costs money - lots of it - just to provide basic services, like law enforcement, medical care and the Buerocracy necissary to process everyone. Not to mention the things like food and housing costs that would be associated with moving that many people. That's on top of the money needed to find and verify individuals in this country "illegally" and the intangable cost of dumping 12 million people on an unsuspecting nation(s)

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That's $5.50 and your SSN please.

15.08.44 - Mark

I'm not a major privacy nut, if I was I'd off trying to be an ungoogleable rather than write on a blog at a vanity domain, but I tend to take the same approach to identity issues that I do with security. I try to be aware of it, and while I won't go out of my way to practice it to an extreme, I know better than to haphazardly blow it off, and I try to follow sane practices, and will even change some of my habits to be a bit above average.

That's why I'm really pissed off about the way my school is throwing around Social Security Numbers. It's bad enough that the school uses the only 4 really unique digits in the SSN in student passwords. But when I can walk into an office and be told to sign my full name and SSN to get a folder full of information it takes the step from scary to outright dangerous. If I was evil, I could have very easily taken a picture of the log, and walked out of that office with 30+ names and SSNs resting in my pocket, almost all of them belonging to people with clean credit reports.

Maybe I should have, maybe then they'd have to change their policy about acceptable use of student SSNs.

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