mad anthony

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

We really have come a long way...

Peter Gordon has an article looking at how medical care have improved in the last 100 years, looking at the "drug department" items in a 100 year old Sears catalog.

Interestingly, one of the items is Vin Vitae, which is made of coca leaves and wine (next to last paragraph).

Cocaine and booze. Right now it's a party, but 100 years ago it was medical care. It's amazing how much we have progressed.

Scenes from work, part four (or fo', as they would say on the streets)

(In between bites of fried dumplings)

Me: I don't know how you can get steamed dumplings instead of fried. The fried ones have that nice brown color.

CoWorker: But they aren't really fried. I think they are just the steamed dumplings that get stuck to the bottom of the pan and soak up all the sweat and stuff

Me: Can you not use the term "soaks up sweat" when refering to the item that I'm eating?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

If elected, I will do nothing and then act like I did it...

John Kerry is promising to increase the number of students graduating college.

Interstingly enough, even his campaign says in the article that "nearly half the hike in graduation rates will come from population increases". So basically he can do nothing, and still say that he's keeping his campaign promise.

He also says We need to move toward the day when four years of college is as universal and affordable as a high school education is today.. This is, of course, silly. Unless the nature of jobs changes greatly, there will still be certain jobs out there (ditch digger, fast food server) that don't require much education, and others (plumber, carpenter) where one can be very sucessful without a college education, but rather with on-the-job training or aprenticeships.

The other thing is that college doesn't just exist to teach material - it also serves as a signaling mechanism to employers that a potential employee is willing to put in the time and effort required to graduate from college.
Megan McCardle has a good discussion of this (about halfway down). Right now a high school education is a bare minimum for a job, because most people have one. If college became as ubiquitous as high school, then anyone wanting to signify that they are harder working than average would need an MBA or pHD.

ACLU sues for right to dress badly...

The ACLU protesting the dress code at a block of Louisville that is shut down at night to become a party spot. The cloting they are objecting to is sports jerseys, sleeveless shirts and backward baseball caps, and they claim that it descriminates agains the poor and minorities.

This is silly- last time I checked, poor people and minorities don't pop out of the womb wearing a throwback jersey and a backwards baseball cap. Clothing is an intentional choice, not a racial characteristic. And I don't see how any rule banning sports jerseys can discriminate against the poor, considering how much some sell for. Shit, I sold my last car for less than many of them cost.

Some companies don't have this whole internet thing down yet...

I regualarly surf Fatwallet, and sometimes I'll duck into the free stuff forum and sign up for, well, some free stuff. I've gotten a T-shirt, some golf balls, stickers, coupons for free food, ect.

I had signed up for a free Bavaria Beer T-shirt that was posted there - just got an email from them that "we've been spammed or hacked" - that they expected 200-300 requests, but got 27000. First 500 to reply to the email would get a t-shirt. I was too late, despite the fact that I got the email 15 minutes before I clicked the link.

I had a similar experience with Nike two years ago with a free golf ball offer that was supposed to be opened only to people who got mailers - but had a sign up form on the net. They, too, sent an angry letter out to people who signed up and basically accused them of hacking.

Companies need to realize that once something gets posted on the net, it spreads fast. Witness chain letters, news on blogs, the "slashdot effect" (websites posted on the popular tech site Slashdot frequenly get so much traffic that the servers crash). This is the internet, where word of free stuff spreads fast, and when all
that someone has to do is fill out a web form, people will, because they are cheap and like free stuff. If you don't want to get pretty much every person with a computer to sing up for your promotion, find a way to restrict people - require a one-time code, first x number, password protect it, ect. But don't accuse me of hacking because I signed up for something that was publically accessible. It makes you sound stupid and non-net-savy. Your customers get a bad taste in their mouth when you compare them to criminals for doing something perfectly legal that you should have had the common sense to realize would be done.

Monday, June 28, 2004

iWish iCould see song titles on iTunes radio...

I normally (or would that be iNormally) bring my iPod to work with me - I have an early G4 grey and white on my desk hooked up to an extra 3-piece set of powered Altecs - plug it in and listen to my favorite songs when I'm working late nights. I do a fair amount of server administration tasks - new accounts, ect - and it's nice to have some background noise.

Forgot it today - had it on yesterday while I was doing laundry and washing dishes and fogot to put it back in my bag, so I decided to try the streaming radio in iTunes. I'm listening to simply radio hip hop right now. Sound is pretty good, doesn't have lots of annoying realaudio style "buffering", and a nice selection of songs. My one pet peeve is I don't see song titles. Seems to me that one of the benefits of net radio, where you have a video output device in addition to audio, is that you can have song titles. I'm surprised Apple, which usually is good about thinking of stuff, hasn't thought of this, and/or put in an iTunes Music Store tie-in.

It is possible that there is a way to display this and I'm just too dumb to know, but I don't see it.

I'm blogworthy...

Look at me.. weee!

I'm (on) the best of the web... sort of..

I had emailed OpinionJournal about the Independance Card. He mentioned it today - I was hoping I would get a link out of it and didn't, but I did get thanked at the bottom.

Why did Jadakiss become such a crappy rapper...

I've always kind of liked what I've heard of Jadakiss - I thought that "Knock Yourself Out" was pretty cool, and I liked that he discovered Bubba Sparxx, who I thought was a unique and talented rapper. But I have to say I've lost that respect after hearing his new song Why. It's a series of questions, some humorous, but there are a couple that are nonsensical. The biggest of these is "why did Bush knock down the towers?" - yup, he's going beyond the traditional claims that Bush either should have known about 9/11, or did know about it and didn't do anything, right into the total moonbattery of saying that he caused it. Never mind the 19 Al Quaeda members on the planes, never mind the tape of Bin Laden rejoicing over doing it, he thinks that was all Bush.

It also contains the nonsensical questions "why did they let the terminator win the elections?" (umm, maybe because he got more votes than anyone else) and "why didn't they give us a cure for AIDS? (umm, maybe because it's a virus, and there is no cure for a virus).

It seems to be a pattern of those on the far left to bring up claims, with no proof, just random thoughts, and then act as if these are hard proof of some far-out conspiracy. Sort of, you know, like Michael Moore's movie.

Sometimes I wish Republican senators would act it...

Republican senator Orrin Hatch has introduced the INCUCE act aimed at P2P networks that are supposedly corrupting children to commit the horrible crime of file sharing. The act is ludacris, and the link gives far more analysis than I ever could. But it makes me ponder a few things:

-Why is Republican senator co-sponsoring a bill that basically makes him a shill for the entertainment industry? Most entertainers and industry players are on the left, and much of what they produce is works of art with a decidely liberal slant. Wouldn't it be in Hatch and other Republican's best interests to have the entertainment industry do as badly as possible? Why support something that is going to hurt you?

-Shouldn't people, even parents and children, have the ability to make choices for themselves? Do we really need the government telling them what to do? What ever happned to individual rights?

-What ever happened to giving businesses the benefit of the doubt, and not assuming that they are all out to corrupt children for their own gain? I thought Republicans were supposed to be pro-business

-Good job for co-sponsoring a bill with Pat Lehey, the guy that Dick Cheney gave a much deserved FU to last week.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Popping the cherry, err, lemon...

I bought a half-gallon of Newman's Own virgin lemon-aided iced tea yesterday, primarily because it was on sale and I had a coupon that got doubled, thus costing me about a dollar for a half gallon. Tastes pretty good.

I noticed it's virgin... does that mean there is an experienced lemonaid out there somewhere?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

How to drive like a Balti-moron....

I learned to drive in New Jersey, a state not necessarily known for it's excellent drivers. Baltimore City drivers, however, make New Jersey drivers looksane and restrained. Some tips for driving in Baltimore:

1. Frequently in traffic, there will be places where two lanes of traffic need to merge into one - an exit ramp, a two lane that goes into one, a line of parked cars in the right lane (which we will cover in depth later). A normal driver in the lane that ends would look to see if there is an opening, and speed up or slow down based on openings. A Baltimore driver does not feel the need to bother with this - too much work. Just keep driving and drift into the other lane. After all, the other drivers aren't going to hit you. Why should you make any effort to accommodate them? One acquaintance of mine has dubbed this phenomena the "Maryland merge"

2. Red lights are really just suggestions. Feel free to ignore them. Once again, if there is someone in the way, it's in their best interest for them to accommodate you and not hit you. There is an exception to this rule however - if the intersection you are about to roll has one of Baltimore's notorious red light cameras. In this case you have to make every possible effort to stop, even if it means coming to a stop in the middle of the intersection and leaving a trail of smoking rubber of a length not commonly found outside of dragstrips.

3. For some odd reason, Baltimore residents will occasionally have accidents. Some people feel that after an accident, people should restore their vehicles to something resembling factory condition. This is a waste of money. Why spend your money on some fancy-pants glass window when the grocery store will give you several free bags with any purchase? If you are especially spendy, you might want to spring for a trash bag. The same applies to other body parts. Crumple your bumper? Just take it off. Break a headlight? Screw it, you've got another one.

4. Bumper stickers are a legitimate means of debate. After all, most people get their political opinions from the back of a late-80's Volvo wagon. An "anyone but Bush" sticker will surely make even the heartiest NRO subscriber vote for Kerry, and a "keep your hands off my body" will certainly make even the most ardent right-to-lifer start volunteering at Planned Parenthood.

5. Anywhere is a legal place to park, except wherever you are parked right now. If you are driving down a road with multiple lanes, avoid the right lane, as this will frequently turn into parking spaces. Avoid the left lane too, if possible, as these are sometimes parking spaces as well - there is a stretch of Falls Road not too far from me where it is legal to park in the left lane on Sundays during certain hours. However, if you yourself actually try to park somewhere, chances are you will at best get a ticket, and at worse have your car towed, then crushed into tiny pellets by Baltimore's finest. I once got a ticket for parking in a bus stop, despite the fact that there is no actual way of distinguishing between the bus stop and a legal parking space, and I was well ahead
of the concrete apron. On the other hand, someone once abandoned a Chevy Nova not too far from where I live. It was clear that the vehicle was abandoned, due to the fact that the driver's seat and B-pillar had been relocated over to the passenger side - it had apparently been T-boned by Bigfoot. It sat for about a month until an abandoned car sticker was placed on it, and another 2 weeks before it was finally towed. This was, by the way, on a six-lane road that is technically part of Route 1.

6. Headlights should be used sparingly. It is not unusual to drive in a blinding rainstorm, where you can barely see a carlength ahead of you, and yet 75% of cars will have their headlights off. The exception is if you own some sort of fixed-up Japanese rice burner, in which case you must affix at least 6 fog lights and leave them on all the time while bumping Eminem off your 1000-watt system.

7. You should put chrome rims on your car, even if they are worth more than your car. I've seen chromes on pretty much everything, including minivans, taxicabs, and Kia's. If you can't afford actual chrome rims, get a set of chrome plated plastic hubcaps. I once saw a late-90's Ford Escort sporting plastic spinners. And the car was stopped, and the rims did not in fact keep spinning - possibly because they were made of the same material as soda bottles.

Sometimes you need to sacrifice for the good of the whole...

Slashdot has a post on a student complaining about having to install a software CD to connect to his residence hall network. The college I work for is rolling out a similar Cd. I made a couple posts, but considering how far the discussion has gone on, and the attitude of Slashdotters, they aren't going to get any attention.

Slashdot regularly has articles of this type - angry students annoyed about their evil net admins shutting off their access to file sharing, making them patch their computers, ect, and most people there are against it - some have gone as far as calling the CD's spyware.

These people really don't understand how destructive viruses can be, and how few students keep virus definitions and patches up to date. One of our network guys once tracked a Welchia-infected laptop plugged into our network - it had scanned every machine on the network in a matter of minutes. They also don't understand how much bandwidth file sharing takes, or the legal implications to colleges that ignore it and get sued.

I hate making statements like the title of this post, they smack of communism/socialism. But the fact is, a virus-laden or file-sharing laden network is useless to everyone, and the primary goal of the network is academic - research, email, ect. Anything else - gaming, file sharing, ect - is OK as long as it doesn't take away from the primary goal of the network - academics.

Some people have asked why colleges don't just shut down infected machines. Actually, that was what we were doing for the last couple years. But the problem with that is that it's too late- by then you have at least one trashed machine, and chances are you have many as that machine has infected other machines. You've also probably wasted a ton of bandwidth.

As far as those who call the CD's spyware, all we check is that you have the latest patches, a functioning and up-to-date copy of antivirus software, and are an authorized network user. Not exactly blackmailable info.

Scenes from work, part 3

coworker: You may want to try having him decrease his internet explorer security level to medium.

me: And if that doesn't work, try medium-rare. With a baked potato. Which reminds me, what's for lunch?

When life imitates art...

I was watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force off my roomate's RePlay a couple days ago, and they referenced a website during the show - my package came from . Thinking it would be funny to register the domain name, I did a whois and found out it was already registered - to the Turner Broadcasting legal department. Turns out that they actually have a website up.

That's pretty cool - almost as cool as when The Simpsons featured

Friday, June 25, 2004

My inner child is 16 today

My inner child is sixteen years old today

My inner child is sixteen years old!

Life's not fair! It's never been fair, but while
adults might just accept that, I know
something's gotta change. And it's gonna
change, just as soon as I become an adult and
get some power of my own.

How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla

A turd by any other name...

The federal government wants to do away with food stamps because of the name the stigma contains. As James Tarantino points out, the stigma is not the name but the fact that it's a government handout (last item- scroll down). Changing the name is just a way to take a program that some people find questionable, and make it look good.

Of course, this is already going on - here in scenic Maryland, food stamps are known as the Independence Card. Yup, that's right. The name of a program where you rely on the government to buy you food is called the Independence Card. Talk about doublespeak.

I have a couple friends who have worked at grocery stores, and the stories they have about people using the "independence card" would make your head spin.

Check out my fat new brown shirt....

Al Gore has decided that anyone who expresses an opnion disagreeing with him, or feels that the media has a liberal bias or has been inaccurate reporting the war, is a Nazi brown shirt.

So here's my brown shirt, courtesy of here.

Do you notice that everything with Democrats is a conspiracy? Bill Clinton's impeachment, the Iraqi war, conservative bloggers, BBC reporters - all part of a vast conspiracy. Not just people having opinions, and seeking out other people with similar opinions. Because if you have an opinion that's different from Al Gore, then you must be a part of the neocon war machine and not a real person.

Except that the Al Gore of 1992
had a different view than the Al Gore of today.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Would a conservative group sue a rebublican vice president?

A recent article on Genifer Flower's reaction to Bill Clinton's autobiogaphy refers to her lawyers at Judicial Watch, a " a Washington-based conservative court and government watchdog". This gives the impression that Judicial Watch is one of those crazy neo-con groups that it still out to get Bill Clinton.

That seems to be stretching it a bit. Judicial Watch describes themselves as nonpartisan. More importantly, some of their current cases don't exactly fit the Republican adgenda - stuff like suing Dick Cheney for alledgedly making false claims when he was CEO of Halliburton.

I guess one could argue that Judicial Watch is conservative in that they are for small government and judicial restraint. But chances are most people who read the article will think conservative=republican - and chances are that's what the article's author wanted you to think.

Study finds smoking ban hurts business...

A study by a couple New York resturant and bar groups shows that the NY smoking ban hurts their business. This doesn't surprise me - I am an occasional cigar smoker, and I pretty much only smoke either when I'm at a bar, or at home with a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other. I think that there are a lot of other people who are "social smokers" who smoke when they go out.

I'm a big fan of personal choice, and I think people should be able to choose if they want to patronize a resturant that allows or does not allow smoking, and the people who own resturants and bars should be able to choose if they want to allow people to smoke in them. The ban has frequently been cast as a public health benefit to employees of these resturants - but once again they choose to work there knowing there is smoking, and I know a ton of bartenders who smoke themselves and thus really don't mind secondhand smoke.

One really interesting thing from the article I mentioned above - it contrasts with a NY State study that showed increased profits after the smoking ban - but the NY study included resturants that never allowed smoking in the first place, such as McDonalds and Starbucks.

The way I see it, I would trust the bar trade group's study more - all they want to do is make money, while the state wants to prove that their law helps people, and to control yet another part of our lives.

Legislate yourself to riches...

Minimum wage laws are always one of those things that it's hard to be against without looking like a jerk. After all, who can live on $5 an hour? One simple law and we can in theory make poor, hardworking people better off.

Except that it doesn't work that way. When you raise the price of a commodity (and one of the few things that Marx was right about is that labor is a commodity), quantity demanded goes down. So you put a price floor on a unit of labor, and quantity demanded goes down. Except when quantity demanded of widgets goes down, you have a wharehouse full of widgets. When quantity demanded of labor goes down, you have unemployed people - the very same unemployed people that minimum wage laws are supposed to help.

Opinionjournal has a great article about minimum wage laws.
Some interesting facts:
-Only 1.5% of the work force is paid minimum wage or less
-More than half of people earning minimum wage are under 25 years old - so they are entry level young workers
-More than 60% of workers are hospitality or service workers, who frequently recieve tips in addition to wages
-One third of minimum wage earners live with a parent or reletive - so they aren't supporting their families on their minimum wage job, but rather being supported by their family


Baltimore City just reopened the fountain in Druid Hill Lake Park, not far from my hood. Went there last night with a friend to take some pictures. It's pretty dark, so this is the best picture I got. You can't really make out the fountain (which lights up at night with changing colors - orange in this shot), but it still looks pretty cool.

Taken with a Toshiba PDR-5300 digital camera.

Can I help you? Yes, please be the laziest employee in the world..

I'm a big fan of buying stuff cheap, and I've noticed the thing that helps me most with accomplishing this is lazy store employees. For example, Target is known for marking stuff down in their systems, and stuff that's on sale is well-documented on deal discussion boards like fatwallet. I've bought 5 ipods for $200 back when they were normally $400, a portable DVD player for $150 that I resold for $300, and 2 playstations with lcd screens that I bought for $40, threw in a $10 adapter, and sold for $120 each. They were all tagged at higher prices. The playstations were tagged at $110, and the clerks were surprised when they scanned for $37 - they insisted on calling a manager. The conversation between the manger and the clerk consided of the manager asking "is that the right item? Is that the price in the system? Then sell it to him for that price.

My most recent experience - Rite Aid had shampoo that was buy one get one free. There was a buy one get one free coupon in the paper. When the clerk tried to ring it up, it wouldn't take. She called the manger over, who at first said she didn't think it could be done. I pointed out that the sale thing was store and the coupon was manfacturer. She then goes "well, I don't care, they pay me for them anyway" and I walked out with $10 worth of shampoo for the sales tax.

People complain about lack of service at stores, but I get most of my benefits out of lazy clerks who just want their paychecks while doing as little work as possible

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Scenes from work, part 3.

CoWorker: Why is your phone unavailable?*

Me: What, huh? Oh Shit. Oh, wait, it's because I'm signed into the phone over there.

(I work at a helpdesk. If I'm "unavailable", then when people call the helpdesk, they get a message to hold. Forever. Plus, my boss gets a report that I haven't been answering the phone, and then she starts to wonder what I do at work. Besides blog.)

But if we make spyware illegal, then only criminals will have spyware...

Spyware supplier WhenU recently obtained an injunction against a Utah law that would ban spyware.

I really have mixed feelings on this, because it's a battle of two groups I'm not fond of - spyware perveyors and people who have no idea how to use a computer. I work at a college helpdesk, and I regularly see computers with tons of popups, multiple "toolbars", ect - we've had students where AdAware has found around 1000 objects. It has a huge cost in terms of time and user aggrivation.

On the other hand, much of the spyware that gets installed is because of poor user practices - unpatched machines, downloading and installing well-known spyware-laden programs like Kazaa, clicking on any install box that comes up, ect. I rarely have problems with my home or work PC's, because I'm good about keeping them up to date and because I practice safe surfing.

I worry when the government steps in and takes away any rights, even when those rights annoy people. What is going to solve spyware is not laws, but educated computer users. Of course, when the average computer user becomes smart enough avoid spyware, pigs will be all up in the sky.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Why do guys married to hot girls do stupid shit?

Interesting article on Captain's Quarters about Jack Ryan, Illinois Senate candidate and former husband of the lovely Jerri Ryan, loved by geeks everywhere thanks to her role as 7 of 9 on Star Trek. Apparently, he's quite the fan of sex clubs, and she's not exactly down with it.

It always amazes me when people who have a ton of good reasons not to do stuff - hot-ass wife, political career, ect - do stupid shit to fuck it up.

Then again, if I had good stuff going on, I'd probably find a way to fuck it up too.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Send us your poor and tired... low down payment...

Michael Friedman has an intersting solution to immigration. Not sure how well it would work, and I doubt too many government people would get behind it, but profit motives can be powerful incentive, and one that should be used as frequently as possible.

I like immigration - if people are willing to hire immigrants and immigrants are willing to work, it seems good to have them. But we need to know who we have in this country, especially since there are so many terrorists who would love to get in and fuck us up. After all, it was weak immigration laws that got the 9.11 hijackers in here and staying in here.

I'm going to go toss the virtual salad...

My salad blogging won't be as cool as say, Michelle's, but I got one of the fire-roasted Chicken Ceasar salads. Not bad. The chicken was really good, the cheese, dressing, and croutons were decent, and you got a lot of lettuce. In all, I would say it's better than a McDonald's salad, and nearly as good as a Wendy's salad.
Wendy's has the disadavantage that they always seem to be out of at least one thing every time I go there.

One thing that pisses me off: if I order a cesar salad, doesn't it seem likely that I want, you know, ceasar dressing? I mean, if you order a cheeseburger, doesn't that mean you want cheese on it? If I order a ceasar salad, don't ask me what kind of dressing I want, ok?

Baby got GMAT...

I've finally taken the GMAT, something I've been dreading and putting off for the last, oh, 6 months or so. Every free moment I have either been studying for the GMAT, or feeling guilty that I was doing something other than studying for the GMAT. Now I'm done with it, and can devote my time to more important pursuits, like working 6 days a week and selling a ton of stuff on eBay (anyone need five wireless routers or 400 slim-line jewel cases?).

I got a 650, (38 math (55th percentile)/ 41 verbal (94th percentile), so I can't really complain. Wouldn't mind math being a little higher, but for someone who sucks at math it's pretty decent. Besides, the school I'm applying to has an average score of ~430, so as long as I don't take a crap on the admission directors desk or send in my application filled entirely in with crayon, I most likely will get in.

Then I'll get to stress over classes, plus I'll have to move to day shift and stress over waking up in the morning.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Say that it's so, Joe...

I'm not know for my love of members of the Democratic party, and most of the ones who get the limelight seem to be getting more and more caustic. But since I read his quotes On the capture of Saddam (scroll down to Diplomacy is Critical) compared to certain other one-time Democratic presidential contenders, I came to respect him - both for his views and for having the balls to stand up for them in a party that seems to put politics above anything else in the Iraq conflict. It's a shame that he doesn't get nearly the respect for being a maverick that McCain does. (While I agree with McCain on certain issues, like his dislike of government pork, I disagree with his namesake finace bill, which I feel hurts free speech).

Anyway, he has some more intelligent statements on Iraq.

(h/t PowerLine)

News amuse you can use...

Looks like I'm going to be co-posting on BSOM's new silly news stories blog, NewsAmuse. At least I will once I find something to post.

America r0xx0rs! Europe suxx0rs!

The Wall Street Journal's Opnion Journal has an interesting article on income in the U.S. vs Europe.. Some of the interesting conclusions of the Swedish study are that 25% of Americans are considered low income, while applying that same standard to the Swedish (well known for their heavily socialistic government, as well as their fine meatballs) would have 40% as low income. Americans can also buy more stuff, having a "standard of living which the majority of Euopeans can never come near."

The study also notes that it measures GDP, which doesn't count "output in the black economy, which is significant in Europe's high-tax states." Interesting... didn't the USSR have the same black-market problem? This to me illustrates the fallacies of high taxes - sure, you might get a larger %, but it's a larger percent of a smaller chunk. There is, after all, some wisdom to the Laffer curve and trickle-down.

Government saves customers from low, low prices....

NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is cracking down on companies advertising sales because the companies haven't sold enough items at the higher prices, hence the government feels that they aren't really sales.

Yup, that's right. The government is going after companies for selling stuff too cheap. Because, you know, we can't have consumers paying low prices for items. That's bad for consumers.

Yes, I understand that the government feels that the original prices are fake and that the items really aren't on sale. But shouldn't it be up to consumers to shop around and figure out if something is a good price or not?

Maybe it's just that I consider myself a hardcore shopper - I regularly buy stuff for resale on eBay, after I buy the Sunday paper I rip out the circulars and throw most of the rest away, and I've been known to go to stores just to see if anything's on clearance. But I think it's reasonable for people to do a little research, and not trust the retailer, who obviously has a vested interest, for info.

Sometimes you need to focus on what really matters..

Watching MSNBC while I eat breakfast. They had a segment on phishing - ie those emails you get written in Pidgin English claiming that they are from PayPal and directing you to a site somewhere in Russia.

They had an interview with a "victim" who said that she felt personally violated because someone had seen her bank account and seen what bills she had paid. Oh, and they took her money.

I don't know about you, but if someone stole my money, I would be a little more worried about that then about them knowing what my last cell phone bill was.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Some people just can't let go...

Driving around Baltimore, I noticed a lawn sign for ReDefeat Bush on a lawn of a local house. I don't really get the point.

First of all, the ReDefeat idea seems to cling to the old yarn that Bush lost, stole, or otherwise illegitimately assumed the presidency. This is despite the fact that even the media recount showed Bush would have won. The only way Gore could have won was if ballots where only the chad was dimpled were counted as votes, or otherwise non-votes were counted as votes. There is the notorious Palm Beach ballot, but would it really have been fair to count votes that didn't specify a candidate a certain way just because some people felt that the people who voted MIGHT have intended to vote a different way than they actually did. Then there is the whole popular vote vs. Electoral college thing. I agree it may be reasonable to eventually abolish the electoral college, but you can't abolish it after the fact. Gore got into the race knowing that it was under the electoral college system.

Even if you feel that the Supreme Court decision was wrong, 1)a recount probably would have produced the same result and 2)at worst, the election was a draw - with more small things leaning towards Bush than Gore.

Anyway, my point is that it seems reasonable that only a small number of people feel that Bush "stole" the election. And those people certainly aren't going to vote for him this time. The people in the middle, the swing voters, the people who will decide the election, probably don't feel this way. And chances are they are a bit suspicious of those on the far ends of either party - which means if you are trying to get them to vote for your candidate, then showing how extreme your views are probably isn't going to help your case.

Granted, is a PAC aimed at recruiting swing voters, but to do this they need money from the people at the far left. But putting up lawn signs that everyone sees might not be the best way to attract swing voters.

Then again, the sign was in Baltimore, which isn't exactly a bastion of Republicanism. I'm convinced I may be the only registered Republican in Resevoir Hill. But I'm guessing these signs are nationwide, being seen by undecideds who can't help but wonder if they want to vote for a party that seems more concerned about stewing over wrongs they were convinced occurred four years ago than issues facing people and the country today, especially terrorism.

Pizza Pizza? More like Crap, Crap

Went to Little Caesar's last night for dinner - I hadn't been to one in years, probably since I was in grade school. There used to be one near where I grew up in NJ, but it closed down years ago. I remember thinking the pizza was pretty good back in the day, and cheap.

Well, it's still cheap, but not very good. Tastes like frozen pizza more than anything. Next to no toppings - one of the pizzas we got was olive, and there were literally slices that had about 3 olive slices on them. I think the whole pizza had maybe two olives, tops. Customer service was pretty bad, interior design circa 1985, ect. At one point, a guy wanted a couple cups. The woman tried to charge the guy for them. When he decides to forget about the cups and leaves, the woman goes "what, did he think we would just give them to him? I couldn't help but think that a customer-serviced-focused company would.

The funny thing is there website has an article
bragging about their improvements. (first article, pdf format).

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fun with prostitution

People arrested for prostitution or public lewdness in Dallas, TX

The redhead 7 from the bottom is kind of cute... proof that Mad Anthony needs to get out more.

(hat tip: Jessica's Well)

Scenes from work, part two

(With apologies to Jeff Goldstein)

coworker: Do you have a 6 pin to 4 pin firewire cable I could borrow?

me: I don't know, maybe. Check my drawers.


Scenes from work, part one

With appologies to Jeff Goldstein

(on the way back from lunch)

Coworker: Wow, we made great time. And we didn't even hit any red lights.

Me: That's because you ran that red light back there. Of course you won't hit any red lights if you drive through them.

Plates? We don't need no stinkin' plates....

About a week or two ago, I noticed a white Ford Taurus ('92 to '95, if my car memory serves me right) parked on a side street near my apartment with no license plates on it. Not a big deal, as it's off to the side, and people who never move their cars, or whose cars are incapable of moving under their own power, park there. A couple days ago, though, I noticed it parked on my street - a very busy, densly populated street, where it has been for the last couple days. That kind of irks me. At first, this was only because it was one more car competing for parking, but after some thought I came to realize it's because of more than that.

The first of this is that the owner isn't paying license and registration fees like the rest of us, myself included. Not a big deal, just a couple hundred dollars a year or so. But in order to get registration, you need insurance, and I would doubt that someone with no plates on his car would have insurance. In the city, that's a serious chunk of change. My insurance bill is around $340 a month. That's almost as much as my car payments. It means that I work for about one month every year just to pay the insurance on my car. And it's not like I'm an awful driver or drive a rimmed out Bentley or something. I drive an almost-3-year old Chrysler, have no accidents on my record, and one speeding ticket about 4 years ago. But because I'm 23, and live in the city, I pay enough auto insurance every year to buy myself a plasma TV every year. A decent one too, not one of those Korean plasmas made by some company you can't pronounce. And this guy gets to share the same street as me without these expenses, his empty license plate area leering at me like an evil grin as I walk from parking like a block away.

This insurance thing is why I would love to move to a REAL no-fault system, where eveyone pays for their own repairs and injuries. I worked for an insurance company for two summers while in college, and I saw some rediculous shit. If you drive, you take a risk, like anything else in life. If someone hits the brakes a second too late and taps your Toyota, suck it up and pay for it. I hate seeing my hard earned money go to paying off people who look at collisions as an opportunity instead of an unfortunate accident.

First Post!

Well, now I've got one of them-thar newfangled blogs. Posting will probably be pretty light the next couple days. I'm taking the GMAT's on Monday, so I'm trying to force myself to spend a big chunk of my free time studying.

I'm not looking forward to taking them - I've been putting it off for the last six months or so, until I finally realized if I didn't schedule them and force myself to take them I never would. I scheduled it for summer, under the logic that it would be slow during the summer and I would have less work-related stress. Of course, that meant that the last couple weeks of work have been way busier than ever.

I'm not sure how I'm going to do. I usually do well with English, but suck at math. I've been studing a ton of math (including doing all 700 problems in the "official" GMAT review book, but I still get a lot wrong. I'm also not sure how much how well I do will matter - I do have good undergrad grades, and also happen to work for the college that I'm applying to. Even if I get in, I still have to hope my employer doesn't reneg on their promise to let me change shifts so I can go to class.