mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

How do they pick tech magazine editors?

Every now and then I read something on a tech site or a tech magazine that just makes me go huh? One of them is in This MacCentral column on the RealNetworks/iPod hack.

For those who haven't heard about it, Real Networks, possibly the worst software company in the world, has introduced a way of playing it's DRM (digital rights management copy protection)-enabled songs on the iPod. So far they haven't demoed it, so it's hard to tell what it does. Apple. however, is claiming that Real reverse-engineered it's iTunes/Fairplay DRM software in violation of the Digital Millenium Copywrite Act (DMCA).

Now the DMCA act has some stupid provisions, and it isn't a great law. But it is the law governing copywrite, and Apple's job as a profit-earning publically held company is to earn as much as possible for it's shareholders, and it has to do that by protecting it's technology, and in that case it protects it's profit by invoking the DMCA.

Anyway, the money quote from the article:
Now, I've always found RealPlayer to be an unsatisfying piece of software, and over the years, I've had oodles of trouble with Microsoft's Windows Media Player. Whereas Apple's QuickTime media player has always performed quite nicely on my Macs, and Windows-using friends have generally applauded how it works on their machines. But even QT-hating Win-users don't advocate suing Apple for developing a client that runs on their machines.

That analogy makes no sense. Windows and MacOS are operating systems. They are designed to run programs from multiple vendors - an operating sytem that you can't run programs on would be useless. Companies go out of their way to convince companies to develop software for their OS's by producing developer kits and sharing information with developers. In some cases, companies that make operating systems make applications that run on other systems - not only Apple with QuickTime and iTunes, but also Microsoft with Office for Mac and the oddly named Windows Media Player for Mac.

What Real Networks is accused of is way different than developing software - they are acussed of illegally reverse-engineering Apple's hardware and software to do things it wasn't intended to do. If they did this remains to be seen, and it's an interesting legal question if it should be illegal, but it's way different than developing an application for a specific platform.

Friday, July 30, 2004

in the NJ

I'm in New Jersey right now... I decided to drive up and visit the 'rents. I had taken today off to use up some vacation days so I don't lose time, and I just found out yesterday that I don't need to come in on Saturday - the satellite campus I usually work at is going to be closed because there's nothing going on.

It's not the greatest time to visit the family - my parents are actually going away on a trip tomorrow - but I wasn't sure how many chances I will get to visit them in the near future with the start of the school year (which is nuts when you work at a college, and will probably be more nuts this year than in the past), working Saturdays, and starting grad school.

I also just kind of wanted to get away... it's been kind of stressful lately. I like my job for the most part, but my social life isn't as active as I would like it to be. Also, I don't really like change and uncertainty, and there has been a lot of that - I'm not sure what's happening with work, if I will be changing shifts or what. I'm also not sure how much longer my weekend overtime will keep on, and I'll miss the money if that ends. One of my roomates also just moved out. Not a huge deal, but it's change, and I'm not a huge fan of change... I like routine, and I like knowing what the future will be like, and I don't right now, Anyway, it's nice to have a change of scenery sometimes, be somewhere familiar.

I'm probably making too big a deal of all this... I've got a lot of good things going on, and chances are everything will work out fine, but until everything falls back into place it's kind of a pain.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Mmm... Chile...

You're Chile!

You're really skinny, and kind of bumpy in frame, but you're not as
rough a person as you used to be.  You like long, long, long walks on the beach and
avoiding having your rights violated, just like anybody else does.  You're even
willing to stand up to those with more power and influence than you, trying to bring them
to justice.  Fight the man!

the Country Quiz at the
Blue Pyramid

Fight the man? I don't want to fight the man, I want to BE the man.
And I'm anything but skinny... when I sit around the house, I sit around the house.

This is for the shorties...

Pejmanesque has this article on mob-connected dem donor Steve Bing.

Ignoring the political implications, it has this sentence:
Bing is perhaps best known for sparking a tabloid frenzy when he publicly expressed doubt that he was the father of actress Elizabeth Hurley's baby. (A paternity test proved he was indeed the father.)

Shoot, if she was my baby momma I'd be proud of it.

Flying from a one horse town...

SCSU Scholars links to this article on small airports closing becuase no airline wants to fly from them.

Interestingly, many of them got or are trying to get federal subsidies. Yup, the federal government wants to use your tax money to fly small planes to crappy old airports (they are all turbo-prop -only airports, probably because they are too small and the runways too short to support jets) that not enough people want to go to to make it worth flying planes to.

I know a few of the areas mentioned in PA, mostly because I drive that way to visit my parents. For example, Reading PA is on the list. Reading is probably less than an hour away from the Harrisburg Airport, which actually has real airlines, and is probably less than two hours from BWI and Newark. Why would they need their own airport, and why should the federal government pay for them to have it?

The article has this quote: "It's a matter of economics," says Joyce Opp, Lancaster airport's finance director. "There have been countless studies that show that communities that have air service fare better economically."

I wonder if Joyce and the study are confusing cause and effect. Maybe it's that places that have businesses and tourist attractions that people want to fly to, and people who can afford to fly, are better off to begin with, and that's why they have air service.

RePlay it again, Sam...

USA Today has an article in yesterday's paper about TIVO and it's competitors. It talks about Tivo and it's competitors - cable and satellite/DSS providers that are including their own DVR's in their cable or satellite boxes, as well as PC companies that are including it in Windows Media Center PC's and DVD-R settop boxes.

The article doesn't mention Tivo's only competitor in traditional DVR boxes, however - RePlay TV. They have been around since 1997, have a pretty strong cult following, and make what I think is a really good product. They had commercial skip on some of their DVR's until the MPAA made them pull it. They also had home networking and ethernet connectivity on their units way before Tivo.

As I said, I own a RePlay - a 5060 - and I love it. Not to sound cliched, but it's changed the way I watch TV. I bought it over Tivo for a couple reasons - native ethernet connectivity, which Tivo didn't have when I bought it (I don't have a phone line), commercial skip, and a really good price ($50 rebate plus $50 gift card from Amazon).

It could be that the author looked at RePlay and didn't think it was worth a mention. Still, when you are writing an article on a company's competitor, shouldn't you mention the company that has been competing directly pretty much since day one? Especially when you mention fringe products like Media Center PC's, which haven't exactly been rousing sucesses?

It makes you think about the mainstream media, and why people are turning away from it. Unlike some things, I don't think this is any bias, but it strikes me as really sloppy reporting to ignore a major aspect to a story, and is probably the reason that people are turning away from newspapers.

You down with DNC? Not if you know me...

I got a letter from the John Kerry/Democratic National committee today. It starts out in the second paragraph that they "know how hard you have already worked to prepare our Party for victory in 2004". WTF? I've never given to any political campaigns (yet - I keep saying I'll kick in a few bucks for Bush eventually) and I'm a registered Republican. And I write a blog with a giant "days until the election Bush/Cheney" counter on the side, but I can't expect the DNC to know that.

The funny thing is this is the second Democrat fundraising letter I've gotten. The first was a far more left-wing one - I think it was written by Barbara Boxer - and it was filled with some pretty strong "Bush is the worst president ever and is destroying America" drivel. If you are a die-hard dem, it may be exactly what you want to hear, but if you are a die-hard Republican it makes you dislike them more, and I can't imagine swing voters like it either.

The DNC letter is pretty calm - it's got the usual stuff about evil HMO's, destroying ANWAR, and defending civil liberties, but that's to be expected, and it's politics.

I did get one letter from the Republicans a while ago, none since.

I can't help wonder how I got on the DNC's list - it seems like they would get it from voter rolls, and a guy who is a registered Republican in a city that's 90% democrat doesn't seem like a candidate for donating.

I've always disliked untargeted marketing. It always strikes me as odd that companies supposedly know everything about everyone, but their marketing is always untargeted - ie all the credit card ads I get in the mail stress low interest rates and balance transfers, even though I have never carried a balance. You think with all the info out there, the Dems could at least figure out who their party faithful is - and if they aren't sure who is who, they might want to send out a middle-of-the road, swing-voter-oriented plea to those who they aren't sure, and keep the party faithful stuff for the people who definitly are party faithful.

Mousin' it

I got a new keyboard and mouse today. Ordered them from different places - the keyboard is an Eluminix knockoff from CompGeeks and the mouse is a Kensington Gamer mouse from I'm loving the mouse - huge, grippy, accurate, nice scroll wheel. I was using a wireless before and it had a lot of communication issues. $15 for a wired mouse seems high to a guy who usually buys whatever's free after rebate, but this one's worth it. They keyboard is decent - it's brighter than I thought it would be based on the reviews on fatwallet, but it's smaller than a normal keyboard, so I'm still having issues hitting the right keys, as they aren't always where I expect them to be.

I'm wondering if buying decent peripherals was a bad move. I go through a lot of keyboards and mice - partly because I use them alot and want one that feels right, but also because I they get dirty, crumby, and coffee stained from the fact that I almost always eat breakfast in front of my PC and frequently eat dinner there as well.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

As I matter of fact, I don't eat hate for breakfast...

The National Review has an interesting collection of Quotes from Moore at the DNC where he has all kinds of fun things to say about Republicans.

He says that "The hate, they eat for breakfast." I'm a registered Republican, and I have to say I've never eaten hate for breakfast. Usually, I have toast and lots of coffee.

He goes on to say that Republicans "up at six in the morning trying to figure out which minority group they're going to screw today". I don't usually get up until 10am. Guess I'll have to turn in my "vast member of the right wing conspiracy" registration card.

Well, that and I don't think of myself as hateful (except against terrorists. Hate them). The thing is that the democratic party, especially Moore and his ilk, seem to think that anyone who thinks the U.S. should let people keep more of the money they earn, or should defend itself against those who want to destroy it's way of life, are evil. Maybe I read the wrong blogs (in addition to eating the wrong breakfast and not getting up on time), but I don't really see conservatives calling the liberals hateful - in fact, some are pledging way more in terms of niceness.

I don't think that Democrats or Liberals are evil or hateful for the most part. They are for the most part misguided. They don't see terrorism for the threat that it is. They want people to be better off, but they don't grasp that people are better served by the free market rather than by government programs. They want people to make more money, but they don't realize that the minimum wage will hurt, not help that. They want better healthcare, but they don't understand that (additional) socialization of healthcare will make most people worse off. They honestly feel like they are doing good, even when what they are doing is destructive.

Sure, there are some Republicans out there who are jerks, but I don't think most are.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

We live in a country with walls, and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns...

Mickey Kaus has his four steps for a Kerry election win (scroll down to Monday July 26, his site doesn't appear to have permalinks).

Number 2 is interesting:

2. Return to 'Return to Normalcy': Peggy Noonan's insight, which is that Americans crave a respite from Bush's frenetic history-making, doesn't mean we can go back to happier pre-9/11 days. Everyone knows we can't. But we can take a break from the abnormal, over-leverage- and over-heated presidential decision making process that led us into Iraq and to the brink of a violent, generations-long global "clash of civilizations." At this point, Kerry's over-deliberativeness may be just what's called for.

When I talk to people who are against the Iraq war, or the Patriot act, or other anti-terrorism Bush policies, I frequently feel a hugely insurmountable obstacle between their views and mine - I think that we are engaged in a struggle for the very continuation of our way of life, and they don't.

When you believe that civilization is in danger, you tend to be willing to sacrifice a few civil liberties and take action against countries that you feel are significant threats, even without absolutely perfect intelligence or approval of every country in the world. You realize that the struggle you are engaged in is different from previous struggles, and it means acting differently than your country has acted in the past. It also means that sometimes you will take action that may not seem as wise as it did earlier - but it's done with knowledge that the costs of not acting may be higher than the costs of acting too early or too much.

I firmly believe that Islamofacist terrorism is a huge threat to our civilization. I think that there are small but very powerful groups of Muslims who want to make the entire world follow Sharia law, and want to kill anyone who doesn't. I believe that these people will do whatever possible to destroy our way of life, and that we need to do whatever is necessary to stop that from happening.

Bush didn't start this battle. He simply responded to it because 9/11 was the first time that many people, myself included, realized that this struggle existed. However, this struggle has been going on for years - on U.S. soil since at least '93, and throughout the world earlier. The clash of civilizations that Kaus alludes to isn't something Bush invented, it's simply something that he realized was reality and responded to as best he could.

The fact is that the terrorists, the Islamofacists, aren't going to take a break. If we relax our defenses and become less proactive in fighting terrorism here and abroad, they will seize those opportunities and hit us harder. When someone's coming at me with a gun, the last thing I want is someone whose own supporters describe as exhibiting "over-deliberativeness".

When the cure is worse than the solution...

Eugeune Volokh is not happy about spam blocking that involves whitelists that he is not a member of.

I had a similar experience with an ebay buyer a few months ago who I sold a wireless router to. He had a whitelist-type spam blocking setup where you had to click on a link in his email or reply to his email to go through - except I couldn't get the link to show up and the emails bounced back. I think he finally emailed me.

I think spamblocking by IP addesses of known spammers, keyword filters, ect, can be good as long as it doesn't result in too many false positive (ie legitimite emails not getting through) Whitelists seem to complicated for anyone who ever has to get emails from someone they don't know (business owners, ebay buyers and sellers, people in jobs who ever have to deal with outside vendors/customers/users/ect).

Personally, I don't care about spam that much - a few clicks and it's gone. I understand the huge costs to networks (but they still bear much of these costs with whitelists - they still get the emails, and in systems like the one I tangled with, store that email for some length of time), but as a user, it's not a huge deal to me.

Me fail English? That's unpossible...

Well, I got my acceptance letter for the part time MBA program. Originally when I opened the packet, the letter was stuck to the side of the envelope, so I saw a course catalog and some insurance info, but no acceptance letter, which puzzled me. But I found the letter, and so I know that it's all good... mostly.

I currently work nights. The plan I had orignally worked out with my employer (which also happens to be where I'm taking classes- I work for a college) was to switch with another coworker (who was hired after me and thus technically gets the bitch shift, but I liked working nights and figured I would stay doing it as long as I could). They changed his duties though, and he no longer does phone support - so I have no clue what is going to happen, and I can't even be sure they will let me take classes.

Why can't my life be simple - or at least simpler?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Abortions for some, little tiny American flags for others...

I saw this on Drudge this morning, but apparently the page is down now - but there is still googlecache. Planned Parenthood is/was selling I had an abortion T-shirts. Which makes me say WTF?

I think abortion is morally wrong, except in cases where the woman's life is in danger, incest, rape, ect. But at the same time, I think groups that want to make it illegal are taking the wrong route. I think convinicing women not to have abortions and providing alternatives is a better solution - basically, focusing on demand instead of supply. Given how long Rowe v Wade has stood, it's unlikely it's going away.

I understand the pro-life positon - when you think something is immoral, that it's murder, you are going to be against it. But I don't understand why so many pro-choice people seem to see abortion not as a necessary evil, or something morally neutral, but instead as something fundamentally good, something there should be more of, like abortions were cute fuzzy puppies or Krispy Kreme donuts or something. Every tiny limit that many see as reasonable (partial-birth bans, not having the government pay for abortions, not providing funding for abortions to China, with there one-child policy) is seen as a repeal of Roe v Wade. The China issue is funny, since most chinese families are aborting their first child if it's a girl because they prefer boys - way to go, woman's rights.

The other think that strikes me as odd about Planned Parenthood is that their name and mission should be to AVOID abortions - it should never go that far. If you need to have an abortion, you aren't planning very well. If Planned Parenthood focused more on birth control, safe sex, ect, fewer people would need to have abortions in the first place. Even if you see nothing morally wrong with abortion, it seems like women are better off not having them - it seems like the pill or a condom are less risky than ANY "medical procedure".

My theory is that most people are somewhere in the middle on abortion- they don't have a problem with some limits, but don't want a total, or even nearly total ban. It seems like both sides keep pushing at the extremes. I understand why the religious pro-lifers are pushing against it, but I don't understand why the pro-choicers seem to see abortion as such a good thing, and don't seem to be making much of an effort to make them as rare as possible - such as Planned Parenthood actually living up to their name and making them rarer.

TV versus blogs...

I don't watch a lot of news-based programs on TV. I used to be glued to FOX news, and I used to be a huge O'Reilly fan. I kind of grew out of it. O'Reilly is entertaining, but he tends to bend facts to suit him and be mean to his guests, and I kind of got tired of it. I also bought a RePlay TV, and thus my days of flipping through channels for something to watch and settling on FOX News are over - if I want to watch something, I usually have about 20 hours of Law and Order reruns waiting for me. I've also tended to get more of my news from the internet, and most of my analysis from blogs.

There is one exception - a news analysis show that I make a point of recording - the Dennis Miller Show on CNBC. It's funny, I like Dennis' politics - hard on terrorism, softer on social issues - and it frequently has guests who are bloggers or writers for online magazines (Cathy Siepp, Hugh Hewitt, writers from NRO, Manhattan institute, the weekly standard, ect).

Every now and then, though, I will hear someone say something that is totally incorrect, and I wish the show was like a blog, where when someone makes a wrong statement, you can email them, or post in the comments with a link.

One I remember from a while ago was someone describing the no-fly list as "obviously it's a list of people who are not permitted to fly". But it's not - it's a list of people subject to additional scruitiny before flying.

Another one was on Thursday's show, where Bill Press was on the Varsity Panel. He said that the 9/11 report reflected badly on Bush because "he got this memo on August 6 that the terrorists were going to crash planes into buildings in New York and didn't do anything to it". This was unrebutted by Miller, who made a comment about Clinton not doing anything either. But it seems like a pretty glaring error since the memo said nothing of that sort. It did say in two places that New York was a potential target, and it also talks about a plot to hijack airliners in 1998. That plot was to release hostages, which is a very different thing than what actually happened. During a hijacking, people act exactly how the pilots on 9/11 act - like the target is the plane, not that the plane is a weapon.

Yes, there is stuff about planes and buildings, but nothing about flying the former into the latter. How was Bush supposed to connect a 3 year old plot and some people in NY taking pictures (which turned out to be Yemini Tourists)to what actually happened.

Anyway, that's what I like about blogs - it's easy to point out and refute lies or truth-twisting - something that is much harder in movies and TV. Sure, I can yell at the TV, but then my roomates start giving me dirty looks...

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Harnessing the power of the donkeys...

USA Today has an interesting article about the eDonkey file sharing program. It talks about how the INDUCE act, which tries to make P2P companies criminally liable for materials on their network and for abetting copyright violations, would affect it. Unlike Kazzaa, eDonkey is headquartered in the U.S., so it's basically screwed if INDUCE passes.

The article doesn't mention that there is a very popular open-source version of eDonkey called eMule. Unlike eDonkey, eMule is open-source, so there's no company to sue, and it's way harder to go after than a company like eDonkey.

I don't generally agree that open-source is inherently better than closed-source programing, but there are some things, like p2p, where the lack of central control or profit gives an advantage. Even if they kill the Donkey, I doubt they will kill the mule.

Scenes from my apartment, part 1

(while helping one of my roomates move out)

roomate: that's going to have to go to

me: what is it?

roomate it's a photo enlarger

me: does it enlarge other stuff too? (begins humping the photo enlarger)
roomate: well, I guess I'll never be using that again...

Likin' the Bush...

AllahPundit links yesterday to an article by Rick Perlstein of the Village Voice, and he asks for responses.

His contention is that Bush fans like Bush only becaus they think he is inherently good, and that such a view is unamerican because the constitution doesn't believe in the inherent goodness of people.

I think that Perlstein has his cause and effects reversed. Perlstein seems to think that conservatives support Bush's policies because they like him. I think that conservatives like Bush as a person because he's someone who agrees with most of their views. Sure, there are some conservatives who will formost argue that Bush is a great guy, but chances are they think he's a great guy because they think he is pursuing policies that make the country safer and more prosperous.

It seems odd to me that it's Un-American to think that Bush is a nice guy, but if you think he's totally evil, that's perfectly normal. Comparing Bush to Hitler, calling him stupid or a monkey or making fun of his mispronunciations is par for the course, but thinking he's a nice guy makes you Hitler too. I would like to think that the reason that liberals dislike Bush is because they disagree with his policies based on reasoning and analysis, and not just because they don't like the guy's accent or where he comes from or who his dad is, but I don't think that's always the case, and it seems odd to critize Republicans for something I think the liberals are far more guilty of.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Kill your television...

With Lilek's constant griping about DirectTV I'd like to point out that cable isn't much better.

It should have been fairly simple - my roomate moved out, and so he had to get his cable cancelled and service started in my name. While I was at it, my landlord wanted to get the cable rewired in black, and installed properly. I live in a hundred-something year old brownstone with windows over all the doors inside. When the last cable guy was there, he wired between the doorframe and window with white cable. Personally, I could care less, but my landlord actually has taste, unlike me, a guy who uses one of those tables from Staples as a desk.

I mentioned this to the cable people, they said OK. Cable guy gets there at 3:30, says no, spends half an hour talking to his boss, followed by his boss's boss. They say it would cost $75 to remove the old cable and $25 to put new cable. He offers to run it over the doors for free.

Between hooking it up, running the line, ect, it takes a couple hours. Gets my floormate's working, can't get mine working. Tries swapping cable boxes. Realizes there is no signal from the cable, and reruns all the cable from the living room to my room. Plugs in the cable box. By now, it's around 8pm.

He finally calls into the cable company to give them the cable box serials. One isn't in the system, so he has to swap that out again. Finally leaves, 4 hours later.

Five minutes after he rolls out, my landlord lets me know that the bottom floor doesn't have cable. I curse, call the number the cable guy gave me, get a voice answering in Spanish. He puts me on hold, and about a minute later my cell drops out. Call back, finally get someone in English, give him the info, he tells me he'll call back.

Almost two hours later, there's a knock at my door. Cable guy actually came back at like 11pm. He goes out back, hooks the other tap off the pole back up, and all is well.

Except I still have to get my reciever, RePlay, TV, and cable box to play nice together. So far I can get sound and video, but I can't change the channel, and I can't program the RePlay. I'm hoping it's a simple matter of switching cables, but at that time last night I didn't want to deal with it.

Unfortunatly, the roomate whose moving out is the AV expert, so I can't even easily ask him for help.

Sure, I'm fat, but it's just so I don't get a cold...

MSN's brilliant screaming front page headline of the day, accompanied on the main page by a picture of a hottie running- Can too much exersize make you sick?

Friday, July 23, 2004

Does Howard Stern hold the keys to the election?

MSNBC is now running HardBlogger, featuring blogging of the conventions. It's interesting to see blogs getting that much mainstream attention, although we'll see how it pans out.

The first link is to this article by Joe Trippani, who sees the election coming down to three groups of people he said don't traditionally vote. The first of these are Howard Stern listeners, who he sees as a large block of voters who rely on Howard Stern to tell them how to vote. That's a pretty scary though. Howard Stern is a great source for lesbian strippers, but the thought of people depending on him for political advice frightens me.

He also sees get-out-the vote websites like VoterVirgin as a big determining factor. I've never heard of VirginVoter before, so it doesn't strike me as hugely sucessful, but what do I know? VoterVirgin in theory is nonpartisian, so shouldn't it's voters be evenly split? Then again, it works with WorkingAssets, which works with groups like the NAACP, so it would seem to lean Democrat - in which case it may be more that Joe Trip is hoping it will have an impact than that it actually does.

His third force is blogs, and that's the one I find the hardest to swallow. Blogs are great for getting news out, getting different reaction to news, and mobilizing the faithful to do more. For people who haven't voted or aren't interested in politics, they don't seem as useful. Blogs appeal to people who have strong opinions on politics, and thus are already likely to vote.

He does list all the bloggers that will be at the Democratic National Convention - KOS, Wonkette, et al. Maybe they would have more appeal if they had a more diverse crowd of blogger there - in other words, if they hadn't kicked out the conservative and moderate bloggers. But I think if you read KOS/Wonkette/et al, chances are you are already voting and voting for Kerry, and would have even if you had never read their blog.

You know those little balls you put on your antenna so you can find it in parking lots? Well, I think all cars should have them...

One of my housemates is moving out, and he had the cable and DSL in his name. He has to cancel it, and I have to get it connected. I had taken today off anyway to burn off some time, so now I'm waiting for the cable guy, who is supposed to be here between one and five. Comcast even called me to tell me that, despite having already told me that over the phone when I called them the first time. If they are going to call, couldn't they give a more specific time?

Anyway, I had to unhook all the old cable boxes to give them back. Mine was plugged into my TV stand, which meant I had to unplug it. Of course, the stand gives a tiny opening in the back - it's covered with those thin wood panels, which is pointless since they cover the back. It literally took me about a half hour to find the power plug for the cable box in the mess of wires.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Someone somewhere got the idea of putting a white stripe on the side of the power cord, presumably so you could distinguish it from all the other power cords. It was apparently such a good idea that now EVERY power cord has one. Out of the 6 things I had plugged in, five had the stripe, making it near impossible to figure out which plug is which.

And it's 3pm and the cable people still aren't here. Grr.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Raising the level of discourse in America

BSOM forwarded me a link to this article about the "Pants on Fire" tour sponsored by stoner ice cream company founder Ben of Ben and Jerry's fame.

I love how this is what passes for political debate by the left in this country - calling the president a liar and building a giant effigy with burning pants. And people say that O'Reilly screams too much (he does, but that's not the point). At least when Rush and O'Reilly scream, they are screaming about actual issues, not just making blanket statements.

Blanket statements about Bush lieing that are, of course, lies.

And as this great article points out, the left seems to be split on how to cast Bush- brilliant liar, able to pull the wool over the eyes of John Kerry to convince him to vote for the war in Iraq, but at the same time too stupid. The B&J Bush doll does this, combining the liar aspect with silly facial expressions. So which is it, ice cream man? Is he a brilliant liar or an idiot?

I will confess that Ben and Jerry make good ice cream, although being a cheapass I only buy it when it's on sale and I have a coupon. But their politcs have always made me shudder. I remember reading this book years ago, and I thought it is was funny that one of the things they were so proud of as their examples of public service was they ran a drive to get every school in Vermont signed up for the free federal school lunch program. Yup, they didn't actually donate money to feed kids, but instead donated money to get the government to feed kids using taxpayer money - money from working-class taxpayers, as opposed to rich business owners who started sucessful ice-cream companies.

Of course, the school breakfast/lunch program is a brilliant pork program. Pay farmers way too much for crops, then give it to poor people. This way, you satisfy two special interest groups and make it that much harder to get rid of the program, as public-choice theory would dictate.

Anyway, I do give mad props to the Bush PR guys for their response to this:
The president welcomes the fact that we live in a democracy and that people in this country are free to make their own opinions known,".

At least someone still engages in civilized discourse in this country.

And I'll break into people's homes at night and wreck up the place..

Enneagramfree enneagram test

I was actually tied between 4 and 6, but 6 sounded more like me - if only because it had George Bush 1 and Richard Nixon as similar people.

The title of the post is, by the way, a Futurama reference.

Giant barriers for Dems, nothing for Republicans

The Democratic National Convention is going to be pretty safe. They are taking the protesters, shoving them in an area surrounded with 8 foot fences covered with plastic sheeting placed under an abandoned railroad trestle. Meanwhile, the Republican convention can't even get a metal barrier and bulky bags searched.

I'm not going to chalk this up to a vast left-wing conspiracy. The steps that the Boston people are taking seem a bit excessive, but given a choice between security and protesters, I tend to side with security. The conventions are big, juicy targets for terrorists, and it's important to protect them from attack.

I know some will see that view as violating free speech - but they probably think screaming fire in a crowded theator should be protected too. I know it's not up to the government to judge the value of speech, but how much impact do protesters really have? Does anyone really look at a bunch of college dropouts and aging hippies holding giant paper-mache puppets and think that they are making coherent policy arguments. Do they look at them and think they want to place America's future in their dirty, pot-soiled hands?

I'm still not sure what the free speech rights the NY judge is protecting -since when did it mean you could carry a backpack unsearched? After all, you can't on a plane, why should you at a political convention? And if metal barricades are so bad, why was it OK to put the Protest Warriors behind them (I think it's about halfway through the film, in the NY section).

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Glenn Reynolds, your computer is here..

the Pundit-R.

No word if it has any blogger-specific features such as coffee cup holder, flameproofing, or a giant siren that goes off whenever Kerry flip-flops on something.

Pourin' out some hot sauce for my departed homies at the T-Bell..

I work at a college, and one of the perks was that we've had an on-campus Taco Bell Express for several years. Being both fat and cheap, I was a huge fan. There are few other resturants in the world - especially in the closed world of a college campus - where one can get $3 worth of food and feel so full that you felt sick. Taco Bell was that kind of place.

Sadly, the on-campus Taco Bell is no more. It's being replaced by something called "salsa Rico" -which is apparently an in-house brand owned by Sudexho.. They are on a bunch of Sudexho-fed campuses. Looking at price lists on Other college's websites, the prices are WAY higher than taco bell - and they don't even make plain beef tacos.

I'm a big fan of capitalism, and I guess all is fair, but it's sad to see a company that has an exclusive contract with a college take steps to limit choices and raise prices, considering how popular Taco Bell was with the students.

Looks like I will probably be brown-bagging my lunch once the school year starts.

I think Lileks is talking about me...

Towards the bottom

This is another thing I’ve learned about the installation business: the people who pretend to listen to your problems are playing Minesweeper on their computers. They send all the installers out cold, with general hints: customer having problem with signal. It’s like writing “patient ill” on every hospital admission form. Eh, why get specific. The doctor will figure it out.

I work in phone tech support, although for computers at a college, not for a satellite TV, and I take offense at his suggestion that people who do phone support sit around playing minesweeper. In fact, we actually sit around playing Zuma.

However, screwups happen on both sides... I've put in work orders, only to have techs ask me questions that were answerd in the body of the work order. And we frequently have customers who aren't exactly sure what they want

Monday, July 19, 2004

Scenes from work, part 8

coworker: We have 3 computers for the "new media" lab for communications that need to be installed. I guess we should do that

me: Why don't we open an old media lab? It can just have pen and papers in it, maybe a printing press and an abacus

Anthony is not an asshole...

Oddly enough, I've gotten a couple hits from people searching for Anthony is an asshole. Turns out that I am the second search result for Anthony is an Asshole on Google.

I don't know why anyone would search for such a generic term as "Anthony is an asshole" on google. When you consider the number of Anthony's in the world, and assume that even a small percent are in fact assholes, it seems unlikely that your search would produce the specific asshole Anthony you are looking before. Besides, assholedom is kind of in the eye of the beholder, so you have to assume that whoever wrote the webpage you are hitting has the same standards for assholeness that you do.

I ask your help, oh faithful blog reader (both of you). Consider doing a googlebomb to right this wrong. Link to this post with the text "Anthony is not an asshole".

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The revolution will be blogged...

Instapundit links to this L.A. Times editorial about the potential evils of blogging. Gee, an old media organ that has been heavily discredited in the blogopshere complaining about bloggers. This is the modern equivilant of buggy whip manufacturers complaining about how cars suck.

The crowning paragraph is this one:

However, bloggers, with few exceptions, don't add reporting to the personal views they post online, and they see journalism as bound by norms and standards that they reject. That encourages these common attributes of the blogosphere: vulgarity, scorching insults, bitter denunciations, one-sided arguments, erroneous assertions and the array of qualities that might be expected from a blustering know-it-all in a bar.

Hmm, vulgarity, scorching insults, and being a know-it-all? Sounds like a Maureen Dowd column.

Most bloggers I read link heavily to both other blogs and to mainstream newspapers and magazines - and critique each other pretty heavily. And many of them do their own reporting as well.

It also includes this sentance: There is already talk of bloggers who would consider publishing items for cash and commercial blogs that tout products.

Great job, Alex Jones. Way to show the blogosphere how to, to paraphrase your earlier statement, "subscribe to norms and standards that members of the blogosphere reject" - by making an unsubstantied claim with nothing to back it up.

News flash - most bloggers have very strong opinions on things and are more than willing to share those opinions. They don't need someone to pay them to express those opnions (although they do appriciate it when you click on their google ads). Furthermore, because they have strong feelings on issues, they aren't likely to change their minds based on cash. Most readers know that the writing of bloggers is just opinions, and usually let other bloggers know, either through comments, emails, or their own blogs, when they disagree. The success of blogs is because people read them KNOWING they are getting someone's views.

iPod update...

MSNBC has an article on the new iPod fourth generation. There is a big picture here.

The big change is moving the buttons onto the scroll wheel. This is like the first/second generation iPods, which had them to the side of the scroll wheel.

I have a second-generation iPod 10 gig, and I like the placement of the buttons, which are easy to change when I have it in my pocket. I was surprised to see the placement on the third-gen, and this seems like a good move.

I only bought my iPod because I got a good deal on it - Target was clearancing them out at 50% off when the 3rd gens came out - and was originally going to sell it on eBay. I decided to keep it, and use it all the time now - I plug it into my Mac at work and listen to music, and use it around the house while I'm washing dishes, doing laundry, ect.

The kids are alright...

Dean Esmay has a good sum-up of young conservatives prompted by the New York Times article on the future of conservatism.

The NYTimes article is kind of funny in that he treats conservatism like it's some alien being that they have never heard of. My perception of some of the rifts it finds (like the anti-war crowd) seems kind of overblown. Sure, the hard-core libertarians of Reason and Mises fit the bill, but I think most conservatives place a high value on the security of the U.S. and feel that the Iraq war was a justified and neceassary step in protecting our country.

I don't think that the social conservative split is going to be as big a deal as the Times likes to think either. I think most young people, including conservatives, are more tolerant of people, even if they don't agree with it. That means that issues like gay marriage and abortion are not going to be big issues in the future, as people will continue to be against these things but will see less of a role in government in discouraging them.

I think that the Blogosphere is a pretty good picture of the thoughts of, well, people who think alot, and most of the conservative blogs I read - which are some of the most popular - tend to be that way - conservative on economics and security issues, more liberal on social issues.

Love at first sound bite...

I was watching the Dennis miller show this morning off my RePlay (it's kind of a Sunday morning tradition at Casa de Mad Anthony) and one of the Varsity Panel members was Darcy Olsen of the Goldwater Institute. Cute and conservative - she might bump the Iraqi policewoman out of my heart.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Kill all the lawyers, part 2

A very well written article on Edwards and his legal backrground is up at OpinionJournal.
He says a lot of the stuff I said in this post but does it a whole lot better than I ever could.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Kiss of death..

I mentioned the song by rapper Jadkiss a couple weeks ago in this blog post. Now he is saying that his line asking
"why did Bush knock down the towers" iis a metaphor. Sort of like how the title of my post "why did Jadakiss become such a crappy rapper" was a metaphor - in other words, not at all.

He claims that the line means that Bush should have stopped it. But he doesn't say how. Apparently being the President of the United States gives you superpowers to see into the future. Of course, when Bush tries to do stuff to prevent future Towers (PATRIOT act, increased security, Afganistan, Iraq) that's wrong too.

He also says he's for a higher minimum wage and more jobs. Too bad that most economists feel that a higher minimum wage means fewer jobs. (An interesting alternative view to this is that employment won't change, but jobs will get less pleasant as employers cut perks to save money and demand higher productivity from their higher-paid employees.

This post is so bad, it may cause cancer (in the state of California)

Well, I got my giant box deeply-discounted of cigars today.

While unpacking them, I noticed that all of them say that they contain/produce material that is known in the State of California to cause cancer. This might be nerve-racking, except for a few things, the first being that I live in Maryland.

More significantly, this isn't the first cancer-causing-in-cali product I've seen. So what is this other dangerous product? My digital camera. Apparently, the charging cable contains lead, and the owner's manual reads like the directions on something you would clean the bathroom with - wash hands after use, don't give it to children, ect.

It's a strange world where a digital camera and tobacco are equally as dangerous. Then again, anything can be dangerous. Life is about making decisions about how to manage risk. Sure, driving is dangerous, and so is taking showers (spoken by a guy who fell in the shower last year and walked around with a giant bump on his head for a month), but we decide that being able to get to work and not smelling like we're French are worth it, so we take those risks.

But apparently the residents of the left coast can't be trusted to make their own decisions without the government giving them some extra information that they probably already knew, or didn't care about.

(BTW, about the cigars - so far the only one I've tried is the John T's The Crowdpleaser. Not bad - slow-burning, mild, not overly flavored, and unusually moist, as a reult of being packaged in Tubos. Not sure how crowd pleasing the scent really is, though.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I guess working with AIDS victims in Africa isn't good enough...

This WaPo chat session has gotten a lot of play in the blogosphere for mentioning that the press now considers it open season on the lovely Bush twins. Several people in the chat session also complain that if the Bush twins want to show their support of the war, they should sign up for the military.

What nobody in the chat session seems to mention (and what I didn't know about until reading this VodkaPundit post is that Barbara Bush is going to be going to Africa to work with AIDS patients after the election is over (also mentioned in a few articles like this one. That seems like a very selfless thing to do, and way more than the average just-out-of collge rich American girl (or American in general) would be willing to do.

It also seems pretty reasonable that having someone as high profile as the President's daughters might be a bit of a security risk for the military, and that the Bush daughters might want to help their father with their campaign, since he is kinda running for President right now.

My new addiction-related addiction..

I enjoy an occasional cigar - maybe 2-3 a week - usually either when I'm out at a bar or sitting on my deck at night enjoying a beer while watching Baltimore City police helicopters circling above.

I'm also cheap. I've bought from cigars international and been happy with the service. I recently discovered that they also run a cigar auction site called CigarBid. They have good prices, and they will hold your items for a week to combine lots to save on shipping.

I figured I might as well buy a bunch at one time to save on shipping, so I put bids on a bunch of auctions. I ended up winning a total of 165 cigars for $44 pluss $11 shipping. They are:

Title: Professor Sila Churchill - 5-Pack
Price: $6.00

Title: Maxim's de Paris Imperial - 5-Pack
Price: $6.00

Title: Dominican Cherry Treasures - Box of 25
Price: $1.00

Title: John T's The Crowd Pleaser Tubos
Pipe Tobacco Cigars - Cherry Cream (20)
Price: $10.00

Title: Vega Fina Natural Elegante (60)
Price: $10.00

Title: Antonio y Cleopatra Tubos Maduro (15)
Price: $5.00

Title: Middleton's Black & Mild Untipped (25)
Price: $3.00

Title: Colita Cigarillo Vanilla - Tin of 10
Price: $3.00

OK, most of them aren't the greatest (even the auction listing described the Cherry Treasures as "stinky" (and I've bought them before, for 10x the price, and they are), but for everyday smokeables they are pretty good, and I've had the Maxims before and they are really good.

The Why of Ikea...

Atomizer at Fraters Libertas wonders why anyone would wait in line overnight to be the first to get into a new Ikea. I have two words for him - free shit.

Last May, Ikea opened a store in College Park, Maryland. They had a number of giveaways at all their area stores, including in White Marsh. The first 100 people through the door got a free Poang leather chair worth $200. I got there around 10pm the night before and was one of the first people there. I called my friend BSOM, finally got him to come around 12pm. It was pretty fun - we actually bumped into some people that BSOM knew and hung out with them.

While you could get to White Marsh as late as 4am and still get a chair, there were people there who had gone to the College Park store at 10pm the night before and there were already over a hundred people there. College Park also had other giveaways, including a ton of furniture for the first person willing to camp out in the parking lot for a couple days. They also gave away gift cards if it was your birthday and had contests, big sales, ect.

So the reason that people will wait outside all night outside an Ikea opening is because Ikea makes it worthwhile for them to. It's pretty brilliant - they get a ton of publicity in exchange for giving away some furniture, and they build goodwill among those customers who got free stuff - I'm typing this while watching my TV sitting on it's Ikea TV stand, with my feet resting on the corner of my Ikea bed.

BTW, pics of the chair are here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Scenes from work, part ?

coworker: What's the number for the reception desk? I can never remember it.

me: I don't know, hold on let me look it up. I can never remember it either. Mostly because I never have a reason to call them. Although I get plenty of calls from them: Anthony, you have a package to pick up. Anthony, is the email down? Anthony, we're hot and we would never go out with you.

me: OK, they never say the last one. But I bet they are thinking it....

Rock, Paper, Saddam...


Stopping at traffic lights on the arab street

OxBlog links to this USA Today story about how Iraqis are starting to obey traffic laws and traffic police of the new interim government. Dave at OxBlog sees it as a good trend.

Having read PJ O'Rourke's columns for the Atlantic, which talk about driving in the Arab world, this may be even more meaningful.

like this article from Egypt

When I could bear to peek, I saw traffic cops—not in ones or twos but in committees, set up at intersections and acting with the efficiency and decisiveness usual to committees. And I saw a driving school. What could the instruction be like? "No, no, Anwar, faster through the stop sign, and make your left from the far-right lane." Surely John Kifner, Chris Matthews, and NBC News are kidding when they use "Arab street" as a metaphor for anything in the Middle East. Or, considering the history of the Middle East, maybe they aren't.

In his column from Iraq, he talks about distribution of food, discussing how Iraqis would fight with each other over food that the U.S. was distributing, even when there clearly was enough to go around.

If the new Iraqi police can bring order to this, I think it's a pretty good sign that Iraq is improving, and I think it bodes well for the future of Iraq. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but establishing order in a country with that little order is impressive.

France to U.S. - you make it, we'll take it

U.S. hater and French president Jacques Chirac is yelling at the U.S. for expecting to get paid for the drugs they invented.

The WTO has ruled that countries can ignore the patents that apply to everything else that is traded in the world. U.S. companies are trying to make agreements with countries that both protect their intellectual property and allow them to get discounted AIDS drugs - you know, voluntary agreements where everyone wins, the kind of deals that happen every day in every capitalist economy.

The profit motive is what gets innovative drugs invented - because companies can make money creating them, they do, and the money that they make supports all the research and development for the drugs that never make it to market. Remove the profit incentive, and you remove those drugs getting made.

It's interesting that the U.S. is the source of all those effective drugs. If the French want the world to have great new drugs for free, why don't they invent them themselves instead of legalizing the theft of them from other countries? Maybe it's because the French system of 2 months of vacation, restrictions on the number of hours that employees can work, and massive welfare system doesn't produce the same innovations that good old U.S. capitalism does. As far as I know, the French economic system produces mostly stinky cheese and cars that fall apart after 20,000 miles (and I speak from experience - my parents once owned a Renault).

Hey, I'm agressivly normal...

City Journal contributor James Glassman hasan interesting article on modern kids, saying that they are in many ways more conservative than their parents. I'm not sure I really count as a young person anymore, although I was not too long ago, and I'm not sure about his analysis - the college kids I know still do a ton of binge drinking. But there are some interesting stats, one of the most interesting being that half of college students now consider themselves conservative, twice as many as in the 70's.

I wonder if part of this has less to do with cultural shifts and more to do with the fact that people are going to college in larger numbers to study useful stuff like accounting and computer science, and actually hope to get good jobs instead of becoming poor grad students. But it is something to think about...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Foreign Leaders for Bush...

Chez president slams F 9/11. He calls it weak, and similar to communist propaganda. And Kerry thinks all the foreign leaders support him....

Why do I get the feeling that Moore would not find his film being compared to communist propaganda to be a bad thing?

The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers...

NRO's The Corner links to a Time survey that shows 35% of people thinking Edward's lawyer experience is a plus, while only 28% think it's a negative. That kind of surprises me.

Part of that reason is having read this excellent Mark Steyn article on Edwards (via PowerLine). I have a big problem with medical malpractice lawsuits like those Edwards won. Sure, if a doctor does something overtly negligent (shows up at the operating room drunk, prescribes a drug someone has a documented allergy to, ect) they should be sued. But it frequently seems that people believe that surgery is foolproof, that everything will go fine as long as the doctor doesn't screw up, and I don't think it's that simple. Medicine is inherently risky, and we've gotten to the point where we can save people who we couldn't a few decades ago. If we punish doctors for negative results of surgeries that are inherently risky, we discourage those surgeries from ever happening - and some people who would have lived die, and we are all worse off.

I'm especially sensitive to the risky surgery argument because I had open heart surgery when I was 4. Open heart surgery on a four year old isn't exactly a cakewalk, and I'm lucky that everything went well. But I think too many malpractice lawsuits discourages risky but possibly life saving surgery.

The second reason for my general dislike of trial lawyers is that I had a family member who was in 8th grade when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. The people who hit the 8th grader sued the kid's parent's for being negligent in, well, letting their kid get hit by them. This dragged on for years before the kid's parents homeowners insurance company settled. There is something disturbing about a system where years and dollars can be spent suing a kid on a bike for being hit by a car.

I also worked for two summers in college for a large insurance company. Some of the lawsuits we saw were justified - cases where the driver was drunk or overtly negligent. But some were ludicrous (ie drunk guy crossing 6 lane highway at 3 in the morning gets hit by multiple cars. First 2 cars drive away, third car stops. Because they couldn't find the first 2 drivers, the family sued the 3rd guy - the one who was honest enough to stop).

I'm not saying that all trial lawyers are bad - I think that we need some, and I think they provide a balance against overt recklessness by companies and individuals. I also think that lawsuits can be a better way of solving some problems than laws. But Edwards is a guy who sues doctors for making decisions that were perfectly rational, then complains about the high cost of health care, and that makes me, well, sick.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I think I'm in love...

Via Captain's Quarters, I found this article on Women joining the new Iraqi police.

From the article:

Whipping out her handgun and slamming a magazine into the grip, 20-year-old Hadeel Alwan can't wait to start catching criminals.
"My biggest wish is to destroy terrorism," said Alwan, one of the youngest of Iraq (news - web sites)'s new women police recruits.

Hmm.. hates terrorists, loves guns, and probably has a cool accent. My kind of girl.

Saturday, July 10, 2004


Amazon is now featuring plogs - a blog of stuff they think you should buy based on previous purchases.

It's an interesting idea, and I'm always glad when companies come up with ways to market based on stuff I actually want, rather than sending me letters to refinance the house I don't own or spam to enlarge the boobs I don't have.

The success, of course, will depend on how well the items fit the person's purchasing. I had three recommendations - a wireless bridge (because I bought my RePlay 5060 DVR from them), GMAT prep books (because I bought three GMAT books from them) and a digital camera (because I bought a media reader from them). The first two make sense (although I already took the GMAT's, so I don't need the books anymore) but the camera seemed odd - if I own a media reader, doesn't that mean that I have a digital camera already?

Gone drinkin'

An old college roomate of mine is coming up this weekend for the next couple days, and we'll probably re-create our college days by drinking large amounts of beer. So if blogging is light, nonexistant, or nonsensical, that's why.

Am I a traitor for liking Trader Joe's?

When I was in college, one of my roomate's girlfriend was a huge fan of
Trader Joe's, the natural/gourmet foods supermarket. My other roomate and I would make fun of him mercilessly for shopping at such a trendy and pretencious place.

Well, a couple months ago my coworker and soon to be ex-housemate BSOM got me hooked on the Trader's. I was in Towson going to Target, and he wanted to stop there. I decided to try a few items from them... and they were good. I especially like their frozen fried rice in a bag and provolone cheese. But the most adictive item is their seseme and honey covered cashews. I think they are actually coated with pure crack, they are so addictive.

I'm usually a cheap, coupon-using shopper, and while I find myself spending more at Trader's than I do at Giant, it's not all that much more - and the food is way better.

But I can't help feeling like some sort of new age hippy when I shop there.

Thoughts on cars from people who don't really like cars...

I have Maryland Public Television's show MotorWeek programed on my RePlay. There is something funny about a public television show on cars, considering the general liberal bent of PBS and the general dislike of cars and car enthusists by liberals. It's not surprising that Motorweek seems to frequently interject their thoughts on the environment, safety, and other things that liberals love but car enthusists could care less about.

This weeks had a piece on FlexCar, an hourly car rental service designed for people who need to occasionally use a car. It's not a bad idea if you live in a dense city - they operate in car-owner hells like Washington DC - where owning a car is difficult. But it's not for everyone. However, their news reporter-babe breathlessly stated that "if more of us used car sharing, that would mean fewer cars on the road and less air polution". Huh?

Unless they have a giant hole in the gas tank spilling gas on the road, cars don't generally pollute when they are parked. It's not people owning cars that causes pollution, it's when they start them up and drive them places. Just having people own fewer cars isn't going to reduce pollution - having them drive less will. And borrowing cars for the owner instead of owning them doesn't mean that people will drive less.

And car sharing isn't going to work for everyone. I live in the city, but I work odd hours, regularly shop in the suburbs, and I usually work one day a week at a satelite location out in the 'burbs. I don't see how car sharing would help me, or many other people. And don't get me started on people like my suburban-NJ parents, where you have to drive pretty far to get anywhere.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Thoughts from the Barnes and Noble computer section, part 1

If I ever went to court, do you think they would let me swear on the Photoshop bible?

Comparing Apples to Oranges, or at least PC's....

Slashdot had a link to a BusinessWeek article on things that Apple should do to improve sales.
The Slashdot article focused primarily on them touting security, but I'm more interested in the others - because I think they are wrong, and that the author doesn't really understand the Mac market.

He starts off saying that Apple should compete more on price, because the desktop computer market is driven by price, not style. While that is true for a large portion of the market, that doesn't mean that that is the portion of the market that Apple should go after. Car pricing is competitive too, but nobody is suggesting that Mercedes should price it's products more like Kia. There is a market for higher-end goods at higher prices.

The fact is that Apple is never going to underprice Dell or Compaq/HP - they aren't going to have 30% of the market, so they aren't going to have the economies of scale that Dell has. That's why they have to compete on style and quality, not price.

He suggests ditching the all-in-ones, pointing out that iMac sales have been slow - but part of that has to be canabalism from the cheaper eMacs. When you add the features of the iMac and the cost of a good flat panel, the price is actually pretty reasonable.

He also suggests Apple give a trade-in for PC owners switching. I've always thought that the Switch ads were not the best of ideas. I actually own both a PC (a homebuilt AMD Athlon desktop running XP Pro) and a MAC (12" Powerbook, 866). I know several techies who also own both Macs and PC's, and in this era it's not unusual for households to have multiple PC's (one for wifey, one for hubby, one for the kids, a laptop for the road, ect). Instead of stressing switching, why not promote swinging - stress how easily PC's and Macs can live on the same network, how compatible file formats are between Mac and PC, and why a Mac might work better in certain situations than a Windows box (photos, video, graphics, kids, laptop, ect). Instead of trying to convince people to switch to Apple, I think it would be better for them to convince people to add a Mac to their lives.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

World court says "tear down this wall"

The World Court at the Hauge has demanded thatIsrael tear down it's bomber-blocking wall. The decision will be read by the court's head judge, who is from China. Not surprising he would come to such a ruling, considering that China knows that walls don't do anything for security.

And I would have had it, too, if it wasn't for those damn kids...

I found myself driving down Gittings Ave to Panera Bread for dinner tonight, where I encountered two kids throwing tennis balls at passing cars. Almost got hit going - sailed over the hood - and on the way back accelerated past them when I saw them lining up to throw.

Beyond the obvious property damage, people tend to react when they see something flying at them, not realizing what it is - and an involuntary reaction isn't really a great thing when you're driving two tons of metal at 30 miles an hour.

However, I wimped out. I didn't call the cops. I didn't stop, pull over, and yell at them. I simply drove on. And I'm not sure what I should have done.

I don't really feel comfortable calling 911 - with all the crime in Baltimore, kids throwing tennis balls at passing cars seems like it should take a backseat to murder or heart attacks. Besides, I didn't want to have to wait around or deal with callbacks from the police. Besides, what would the police have done? Arrested twelve year olds?

I guess I could have stopped the car, gotten out, and yelled at them. But I'm not exactly an intimidating figure, considering I'm about as wide as I am tall. And even if I could physically intimidate them, it would probably get me in trouble. I can see the headlines... Crazy tech support guy threatens poor, innocent kids. Their parents would probably sue me.

Lileks had a good BackFence column (registration required) about him yelling at a kid who was cursing in front of his 4 year old daughter, and the kid totally blowing him off. Anyone who knows me (or reads my posts on NewsAmuse) knows that I don't have a problem with dropping the occasional F-bomb, but I think there is a time and a place for it. Lileks wanted to box the kids ears, but didn't.

I feel I underreacted. But I'm not sure what the correct reaction would be.

Admissions payola?

Captain's Quarters links to an interesting article about the length that colleges are going to attract guidance counselors so they can get them to recommend those colleges to their students.

I'm kind of surprised about this, mostly because I avoided my high school guidance department as much as possible. I looked at colleges on my own based on books, fairs, and stuff I got in the mail, filled out my forms, and only dealt with them for the obligatory letters and transcripts. I didn't even report what colleges accepted me, which meant that the graduation program didn't list me as being accepted anywhere - something that my parents were quite irked about.

I have to wonder how effective guidance counselors are - I would think most students have some idea where they want to go, or at least what type of school they want to go to. It seems to me that it is the most marginal students, the ones who have no clue what they want to do in life and have no desire to try to figure it out themselves, who are going to be most influenced by a guidance counselor. And if you are a college, is that really the kind of person you want to recruit?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I think we need to build a coalition or something...

The National Review Online has the the transcript of John Edwards on the Charlie Rose show on 9/11. Edwards mumbles about how we should deal with it via some sort of coalition involving other countries and diplomacy. He then gets verbally schooled by author (and Loyola College alumni Tom Clancy (who earlier in the show proposed we deal with Afganistan pretty much the way we did).

REAL crushing of dissent...

Chinese doctor who admits to treating Tiananmen Square protesters sent for "reeducation".

I always laugh at those who like to use phrases about how "Ashcroft's America" is "crushing dissent" in this country, when you consider how many anti-war protests, websites, editorials, movies, ect. exist in this country.

If anyone tried protesting the way anti-war protesters in this country do in China, or many other countries, they would be stuck to the treads of a tank right now.

Something for anyone who thinks that they know repression to think about

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Scenes from work, part 5

(coworker on the phone with his girlfriend)You know, I was playing with my balls last night, and I realized that that lump that's on my one nut is also on my other nut.

Me: You know, there are some phone conversations that really aren't appropriate for work.

Finding connections where they aren't...

Via slashdot, the NYTimes has an article comparing the server side software of the Kerry and Bush websites. It spends two thirds the article reading all kinds of stuff into the fact that the Bush campaign uses Microsoft IIS while Kerry uses Apache, saying that Bush uses MS because he's pro-business. Then at the end, it has this quote:

Told that the Democratic National Committee Web site runs on open-source software, Tony Welch, the national committee's press secretary, replied, "Oh, thanks for telling me." Later, after checking with his technical staff, Mr. Welch called back to say that open-source software was "the right technology at the right price."

Which to me sounds like "we don't know what it means, but it sounds good so we're for it".

It also has this great quote about the security of Apache versus IIS on Win2k
But the Microsoft software, he said, "clearly is the least secure of the two Web serving solutions," given its susceptibility to infection by malicious computer worms like Code Red and Nimba.

While I won't argue that Microsoft software has it's security holes, is it really a big deal that it's vulnerable to Code Red, a virus that came out in mid-2001 - and yes, there is a patch for it.

Mono... doh!

Fraters has a great article about light rail up on their site, with references to Minneapolis and Phoenix's light rail systems, plus multiple Simpson's references.

Baltimore is another city that is convinced of the joys of light rail. In the five or so years that I've lived in Baltimore, including my freshman year of college when I didn't have a car, I used the Light Rail exactly once.

Usually with mass transit you get the advantage of speed compared to a car - take the Metro in DC, and you zip under the massive traffic jams and horrifically designed streets on the surface. That helps to make up for the lack of privacy and crush of humanity that you have to deal with.

With light rail, you get the annoyance of standing three inches from someone who hasn't bathed since Bush Senior was president, but you get limited speed advantages, since the light rail goes on surface streets and actually stops for traffic lights. About the only advantage with light rail is not having to park when you get to where you are going - but due to the slight number of stations and their locations, chances are you have to drive to the station to park anyway - cutting out another possible advantage, being able to get drunk and not have to take a cab home - since you still have to drive from the station to home.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Customer service on the net, part 2

I got a response to the email I sent to about the coupon screwup. Their answer:

Hello Anthony,

Thank you for contacting

Please note that the coupon cannot be used in this order as no
two promotions can be clubbed together. We hope this clarifies
any confusion and we apologize for any inconvenience that you
have encountered.

We have left a note in your last order(19380822) to provide you
$5 discount on your next purchase .So now you will get the $5
discount automatically whenever you will place a new order with

I'm not sure how wanting to use a coupon once is considered "clubbing together promotions". Personally, when I'm "clubbing together" I like to listen to techno music while drinking a red bull and vodka, but I don't think that's what they meant. However, I do get a $5 discount on my next order, and it sounds like it won't have any restrictions. Not as good as what I wanted (a $5 credit to my credit card for the coupon which I still feel I should have been able to use), but better than nothing, and not worth continuing the fight.

I still think they shouldn't base their business strategy on hoping customers forget to check their shipping options, though.

Al Gore "invented" the internet, and now John Kerry will use it to save the economy...

This article on Powerline tipped me off to John Kerry's brilliant plan for using the internet to save the economy.

Powerline pokes fun at his misspeak of "cutting capital gains" (that's called socialism, folks) and paying for it by "accelerating the transition to digital telivision". I'm not sure how my watching CSI in HDTV produces government revenues (and I dread the coming of HDTV because it means I'll have to shell out the money for a converter, and you know I love buying shit that I don't want because the government makes me if I want to continue watching the TV).

His platform also says that universal broadband could add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and generate more than 1.2 million jobs.. How? The main uses of broadband seem to be to download porn and pirate music faster. So are Kerry's jobs going to be in the porn industry?

He also wants to make sure that first responders have broadband - so that your firemen can be downloading porn off Kazaa instead of putting out your house fire, I suppose.

He's also going to reward schools that turn out more engineering and science degrees. Because you know that the kids who got into science or engineering because their school pushed them into it are really going to be the ones motivated to invent the next microchip or lifesaving drug.

Biggest. Asshole. Ever.

Reading about This guy just makes me feel dirty all over, and not in a good way.

He's the sidebar on a Newsweek article about married women who cheat on their husbands.

In the article, he says that he's slept with over 40 married women in his career. He also says that he doesn't feel bad about it because their husbands weren't giving them enough attention (maybe because they were out earning money so that their wives could pay the $150/hour that he feels the need to tell us he charges so that their wives could hire a personal trainer to bone them).

He just seems to ooze sleaze - and at the same time, you read it and realize what a loser he is. OK, he makes more money than I ever will, gets more action than I ever will, and has the body of a roman god, while I have the body of a sack of jelly donuts. But he also has the empathy of a bag of donuts with none of the taste. While I'm kind of a jerk, I'd like to think I'm not that much of a jerk.

Besides, you would think that someone with his money/looks/charm could do better than middle-aged housewives.

Oddly enough, he's also divorced. I can't imagine why.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

More guns, less crime. More gun control, more absurd statements...

As a temporary New Jersey resident for the next couple days, I had the fun of reading Fran Wood's Newark Star-Ledger column on the overturn of the assault weapons ban.

I'm too lazy to fisk the entire article, but there are a few stupid things that stand out that I needed to address.

The first is the breathless opening statement:

In case you haven't enough other things on your mind, I just thought I'd let you know that as of Sept. 13, assault weapons could start showing up on the streets again. Legally.

I'm not sure how guns show up on the street. I mean, I personally would love it if free guns just appeared on the street, but I don't think that's what Ms. Wood meant. I guess she could mean that people can now legally carry assault weapons around with them in New Jersey. Except they can't, because New Jersey doesn't have a concealed carry law, and I think if you walked down the street carrying an assault weapon, you would probably at some point be stopped by the police. I suppose she means that criminals, gangbangers, and robbers may now start carrying assault weapons and using them in the commision of crimes. But it's hard to use a weapon in the commission of a crime and still be legal, and it's hard to imagine that gangbangers and criminals base their gun purchases on federal gun laws.

iting the Second Amendment right to bear arms, they oppose virtually all forms of "gun control" as an infringement on that right.

"The NRA is still living in 1776," says Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th). "They oppose any legislation that curtails anything. They did it on the Saturday Night Special. They did it on the child safety lock. They do it on everything."

There is a good reason for this - because the more limits for guns that go into effect, the easier it is to slide down that slope to more regulation. If it's acceptable to ban so-called assault weapons, why not ban all semi-automatic weapons? If we can ban some cheap pistols (saturday night specials) we might as well ban all of them. That's why "gun nuts" don't want bans - because they know they will only beget more bans and more infringement on rights, no matter how benign they seem.

And would being back in 1776 be that bad in terms of guns and crime? I mean, there was a lot less crime back then, and a lot more individual freedom.

Opponents of the ban warn that it would infringe on the rights of sportsmen and hunters -- though the list of banned guns includes no traditional hunting firearms. Instead, the ban prohibits the manufacture, sale and importation of military-style, semi-automatic assault weapons and rapid-fire ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. It applies to precisely 19 semi-automatic firearms, leaving protected 670 semi- automatic firearms for hunting and recreation.

Except what seperates assult weapons from other weapons is primarily cosmetic stuff like grip type. They don't fire any faster. So what is the advantage of banning them. And while they might not be used much in hunting, they can be used in recreational shooting and collecting. People don't need to own a race car or a performance car like a Viper or Corvette, but that doesn't mean we should ban them.

That effectiveness was clear from the outset. After the first year, the National Institute of Justice found that police traces on assault weapons used in crimes had declined by 20percent. Nine years later, that decline has more than doubled.

I wonder if by some odd reason the number of non-assault semi-automatic weapons used increased. The fact that this statistic is so specific would make me think so. And if gun control laws worked, wouldn't the amount of assault weapons used have gone to zero? Oh, wait, I forgot, criminals don't follow gun laws - that's why they are criminals.

And the rocket's red glare, the firecrackers bursting in air...

I've been at my parent's house in New Jersey the last couple days for the 4th of July holiday. Lots of firecrackers going off, which is amasing since fireworks are highly illegal in New Jersey. Of course, all the people setting them off will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, right?

Of course not. Which begs the question: if you are going to have something that is illegal, but pretty much tollerated with a wink and a nod, why make it illegal at all? All you do is turn law abiding people into criminals and prevent some people from doing something they want to because it's illegal.

There are two reasons to ban fireworks - public safety and annoyance. On the first, I think people should be responsible enough to decide for themselves if they want to take the risk. I find fireworks going off at 4 in the morn rather annoying, but there are usually zoning/noise ordinances to deal with that.'

Of course, this wink and nod illegallity exists in a ton of places - underage drinking, drugs, guns, and speeding. All areas I wish there was a little more public freedom and a lot less half-assed government control. Half-assed policing of things lots of people engage in means that a few people get punished for things that most people do.

So what if a few kids die? We'll make more...

Marginal Revolutions has this article about a polio outbreak in Nigeria that's killing kids. The local Muslim religious leaders have refused polio vacines, claiming that they spread AIDS and HIV and are a western plot to steralize the Muslims.

Now that children are dying, they are accepting vacines from Indonesia because it's a Muslim country. The article includes this quote:

the ‘wise’ men of those regions of Nigeria had decided to see sense a long time ago, polio would most probably not exist in Nigeria today. Why didn’t they ask for batches from muslim countries a year ago? Why did they wait so long?

Forget asking why they didn't ask for batches from Muslim countries, why would they rather have children -their children, Muslim children that they claim to care about so much - die rather than accept U.S/Western vaccines? How can you claim to be a religious leader and put propaganda above saving the lives of your own people?

Similar stories have happened before with Muslim religious leaders, with vaccines and other circumstances. After the huge earthquake in Iran, the local Mullahs refused any money or search and rescue teams that were offered from Israel.

My theory on why these leaders won't allow Western help is that any good behavior on the part of Americans/the west/Jews weakens the "us against them" mentality that their propaganda thrives on. It's hard to preach that all the Jews are out to get you when they are digging you out of collapsed buildings, it's hard to preach against American imperialism when American drugs are keeping your kids from dying. So in order to keep their propaganda alive, and thus their power, they let their own people die. That sickens me.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

The award for best porn reference in an article about how to fly the American flag..

Goes to this article in OpinionJournal".

Later, as I passed the local XXX-rated video store, I saw his truck, and others festooned with flags, parked in front... Each vehicle had flag poles inserted into every orifice in its chassis.

truly a Scion of auto reviews...

possibly the funniest car review I have ever read, and that includes all of the John Philips articles in Car And Driver. This almost makes up for his harsh review of the PT Cruiser... almost.

Scroll down and read the article on the Chrysler 300 as well - especially the NYT one with Snoop dee oh double gee...

h/t instapundit

Friday, July 02, 2004

I traveled like the wind through the rotten fruited plain..

Drove from Baltimore to my parent's house in central NJ today. I go via Pennsylvania (I-83 to I-81 to I-78). Depending on traffic, it can take longer than the traditional Maryland/Deleware/NJ turnpike run, but I've grown to like it better. I started going that way in college, mostly because my Dad liked it and thought I was safer going that way. However, I also like the fact that it doesn't have a ton of tolls (both in terms of time and money), and I like stopping at out of the way gas stations better than stopping at big ugly rest areas. The scenery isn't bad either.

I used to visit my parents a lot more, but the last 9 months or so I've been working Saturdays, so the only time I can visit is on holidays. It's kind of interesting traveling on holidays, because you see plates from all over the country - it makes you realize that Americans really do have strong family ties, and even though they will frequently move cross-country, they also frequently come back to visit and stay in touch with their roots.

I've really grown to like driving as a form of transportation - I've always been a car nut, and never been a mass transit fan, but there's something about rolling through the middle of nowhere in PA at 80 miles an hour, sunroof open, stereo blasting, singing along. It's my car, it's my life, and I can go where I want when I want. Even with high gas prices, silly insurance rates, and other high fixed costs, you can still go pretty far pretty cheaply in this country, and I think that's great. We can leave home for whatever reasons - education, employment, love, whatever - and still be able to visit those we care about.

Lileks had a really good fisking of a Gardian article about a visit to the central U.S. where the writer points out that only 1 in 6 Americans have passports, and Lileks responds that it's because the U.S. is so much bigger, that one can see so much without leaving the country. I think that's true, and that that's a great thing about America - there is so much to see, and it's so easy to see it.

People think of mass transit as a great melting pot - rich and poor on the same stinky bus. But driving is pretty egalitarian too - the guy in the shiny new Maybach and the guy in the beat up K-car share the same road, obey (or not) the same laws, and go to the same place. If there is traffic, they both get stuck in it. Yet they also have the freedom to go where they want, to listen to loud music or talk radio or whatever without bothering anyone, to stop when they want and go what they want. And I think that is a great and underappreciated thing.

Customer service and the internet....

I buy a lot of stuff online. Partly because there are certain items I don't really like shopping for in person, partly because I work 6 days a week and don't always have time to buy stuff at brick and mortar stores, partly because I spend so much time in front of computers both at work and at home, and partly because online prices are frequently ver good.

One thing I've noticed companies still love to do is advertise free shipping all over there site, but default to some sort of paid shipping. Amazon and are guilty of this. I placed an order today with and used a coupon for $5 off. As soon as I hit the confirm order button, I realized I had forgotten to pick free shipping. I couldn't find any way to change my preferences, so I cancelled the order and reordered. It wouldn't let me use the coupon, saying that I had already used it - which I had, but on an order that was cancelled.

I've emailed and we'll see if they credit me back the $5. While I am pretty cheap, the cost isn't so much the issue as the principle. On the internet, there are many companies selling the same things, with only price and customer service distinguishing them. While I firmly belive people should read the fine print when making purchases and check that everything is correct before hitting OK, I also think that a truly customer-focused company won't advertise free shipping all over their site and then hope that people forget to select it.

There are a few companies online whose customer service impresses me - I recently had a really good experience with I decided it was time to get a pair of sandles, and I had a 20% off coupon for them (plus they are a generous fatcash merchant and have free shipping on everything. I got a pair of Birkenstocks (I know, they are for hippies, but they feel so comfortable), but they were too big. You can automatically request an exchange from their site, and I did this - it's supposed to give you a UPS label as a JPG. Label didn't show up, no matter how many times I refreshed or did "show image". Emailed them (on a Friday night, mind you) and had an email with a shipping label in about 45 minutes. Got the replacement Birkenstocks in about a week.

Granted, companies that sell stuff like shoes HAVE to be more customer focused than book/electronic retailers, because they sell something that people frequently need to try on and thus are reluctant to buy online. Still, I think there are lessons to be learned from these retailers

Should we all speak French and watch open-wheel race cars?

OpinionJournal has a brief mention of Formula one racing in Nascar country that includes the quote When you're selling tickets or trying to get ratings, your whole life depends on the guy who lives on the south side of St. Louis who's sitting there drinking a beer on a Sunday afternoon," Mr. Wheeler told the Virginian-Pilot. "He's run a backhoe all week. He wants people he can associate with. . . . Guys with big heads and big hands and big feet.

So now Americans aren't just inferior to Europeans for the rest of our cultural gaffes - supporting democracy over tyranny, not traveling to enough foreign countries, not having a socialist government that mandates 2 months of vacation or free health care - but also for prefering NASCAR to Formula 1.

I admit, I don't understand the appeal of NASCAR. I don't really watch much racing at all, and cars making only right turns for several hours isn't exactly my idea of fun. But except for occasionally making left turns, and having drivers with names that are hard to pronouce, I don't really see anything superior about F1/IRL/et al. If I'm going to watch any motorsports, give me rally or LeMans style endurance - those are people with true driving skill, and they are exciting and entertaining to watch. Rally drivers will get all kinds of sideways and do things you didn't know a car could do, and 24-hour racing requires huge amounts of human and mechanical stamina. - plus cars frequently blow up in spectacular ways.

However, I take issue with the Bubba stereotype of the NASCAR fan. I know a handful of NASCAR fans, and most of them are educated professionals - engineers, accountants, insurance
reps, ect. If this chart is correct, the average NASCAR fan makes more than the average American. This would seem to suggest that most NASCAR fans are not backhoe driving Bubbas, but it seems people can't resist the urge to paint Americans - especially Americans who live in the South and like racin' - as ignorant.