mad anthony

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

Monday, November 29, 2004

Through the wire....

I got hooked on the HBO show The Wire last year. I had heard of it earlier, and was curious about it since it was filmed in Baltimore, but I didn't start getting HBO until last year.

It's interesting to see Baltimore in it, although there haven't been a lot of familiar stuff since most of it takes place in the southern part of the city, and much of the second season centered around the docks. But the last two weeks have been good - last week included a mention of Loyola where one of the characters mentioned he went to college, and this week featured two locations near my apartment - Linden Liquors on North and Linden, and the Druid Hill resevoir fountain.

One other thing I realized is how significant things in a show become when you have some familiarity with where it takes place. For example, in last week's episode, two characters are discussing where they grew up - cop McNulty mentions he grew up in Lauraville, while political consultant Theresa D'Agastino says she grew up in Homeland. If you've never been to Baltimore, that's meaningless - but if you know that Lauraville is fairly blue collar, working class while Homeland is way upper class. This tells you a little more about their background.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Oh no, he's hooked on candles...

I got carded today. What dangerous item was Mad Anthony buying? Beer? Tobacco? Porn? Nope.

I was buying a BIC Emotions candle lighter. It was on sale at Rite Aid with a rebate, I had a coupon and it wound up being 99 cents after all was said and done. And the clerk made me show ID.

I'm guessing they classify any sort of ligher as smoking related and require ID. But I'm 24. I rarely get carded when I buy beer or cigars, so it's strange to get carded buying a candle lighter. It's also kind of creepy. I'm guessing it's a policy thing and not a law, but what is this world coming to when a consenting adult can't light a candle in his own apartment without having to show ID? Will McDonald's start making me sign a medical waiver before I order a Big Mac?

Scenes from I-83 southbound...

(on the way back to Baltimore after Thanksgiving break, while driving past a Sprint billboard with a cute redhead talking on her cell phone)

Me (to myself): Shit, I'd let her call me. I'd even let her use my daytime minutes.

(yes, I talk to myself while I drive. I also yell at the TV and sing in the shower. And I know you do too)

Friday, November 26, 2004

Before we issue this credit card, let's talk about your mother...

A woman who pretended to be a Saudi princess to get an Amex black card is suing Amex because they should have known she was mentally ill and shouldn't have the card

First of all, it doesn't make sense that Amex would court people who have they know can't pay their credit card bills, since Amex winds up footing the bill for those transactions. More importantly, if she wins this, will credit card issuers have to examine the mental health of everyone who applies for a card? In addition to filling out my job and salary info, will I have to tell Amex that sometimes I feel sad and lonely?

Buy nothing day...

I didn't realize that, in my previous post on the shopping I did on Black Friday, I was also showing how stupid Buy Nothing Day is (via InstaPundit

In addition to the fact that not buying stuff means money isn't going to those "nickel and dimed" clerks at Wal-Mart, or to those in 3rd world contries who work in factories because it beats starving to death, which is what they would do if they didn't have factories to work in, there are a couple other reasons I can think of that Buy Nothing day makes no sense. First of all, there is the pointlessness of a one day boycott - as pointed out in Snopes' analysis of the one-day gas boycott.. A one day boycott doesn't change spending, it just shifts it.

The second thing is that Black Friday is a great day for sales, if you don't mind waking up at 4 in the morning and being shoved by people eager to get their hands on free CD-R's. If you are willing to put up with the lack of sleep and physical harm of Black Friday, but resist it to make a symbolic point, and then buy the same stuff you would have bought later at a higher price, how are you hurting the big evil companies? Aren't you just hurting yourself and giving them more money?

Black Friday Blogging

I hit up a bunch of the stores for Black Friday sales. Here's how my day went:

4:30 AM - wake up to alarm. Shower, dress, check w00t. Note that I didn't get my target wakeup call from Heidi Klum

5:30 AM - arrive at Circuit City, which opens at 6. Line stretches from doors in middle to end of bulding - not too bad. Opens at 6, they are very well stocked, get everything I want, get in line - 2nd in line at the register. Out by 6:20.

Items purchased:
Samsonite camcorder bag - Free after rebate (FAR)
Targus DVD bag - FAR
Philips 100 pack CDR - FAR
Belkin G router - $8 AR (after rebate)
Belkin G PCI card - $5 AR

6:30 - Arrive at OfficeMax, which opens at 7. Line at the shopping center they are at stretches two stores down.

7AM - OM opens. Bedlam. Tons of people pushing, poking, ect. Line at customer service for small items, like the FAR flash drive and SD card. Decide to grab big stuff first, then wait in line. Rush for stuff - there were cd's and jewel cases everywhere from packs broken open in the chaos. Get most of what I want, wait in the customer service line to get flash drive (out of sd cards). Lines to check out stretches to middle of store. Takes an hour and a half to check out. Since customer service was being used to hand out items, they are processing returns at the registers, and not making people returning wait in line - so I finally make it to the register, and have to wait for some guy to exchange a mouse.

Items purchased:
Khypermedia 100 CDR- FAR
Value Disk 10 DVD+RW - FAR
Northwest Bell cordless phone - FAR
64mb flash drive - FAR
SD Card reader - FAR

9AM - finally get out of OM. Go to Barnes and Noble, pee.

9:05 - Go to PC Richards (local chain). Nobody there and plenty of the CD-R's I wanted, but no rebate forms. Put CDR back, leave

9:15 - Radio shack. Tons of CD-r's, no line. Out in 5 minutes.

Item purchased
Ridata CDR 50 pack - FAR

9:25 - ACE hardware

wander around, find what I want, get checked out by a cheerful woman who asks what number store this is and is surprised when I say "5"

Items purchased:
tape measure 99 cents AR
Christmas cards FAR
Flashlight FAR

9:40 - staples. Out of everything I wanted

9:50 - home. Drink coffee, eat donuts, take a 3 hour nap. Wake up, nuke some turkey and stuffing, start filling out rebate forms.

I realized that Circuit City stiffed me on the forms for the Belkin wireless card. Guess I'll be back there tomorrow.

Not a bad take, but not as good as previous years - and unless they are handing out free plasma TV's, I think I'm skipping OfficeMax next year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Driven, nuts...

I'm in NJ right now at the parent's house for Thanksgiving. I took today off, and my employer gives both Thursday and Friday off (yeah for working in higher education), which gives me a nice 5-day weekend. I get along pretty well with my family, but because I live 3 states away I don't get to see them a whole lot, so it's nice to spend some time with them, get some good food, ect. I always feel a little pang of sadness and guilt that I don't see them more often when I'm there, but it's great to be able to spend some time.

I had an awful drive getting here. Unlike most people who make the Baltimore/NJ drive and take I-95/the NJ Turnpike, I take 83 North to 81 North to 78 east. It takes about the same time normally, but there are minimal tolls, better scenery, and cheaper gas.

The first sign that the drive was going to be bad was that it was raining. I hate driving in the rain. Part of this is because my first car, an '87 K-car, was horrible in the rain. It's inabliity to stop or resist hydroplaning in the rain, combined with teenage stupidity, have seared a dislike of driving in the rain into my mind despite being a better driver and having a car that has traction control, ABS, and all those other modern conviniences. The other thing about driving in the rain is that it seems everyone stinks at it - people either crawl along at insanely slow rates, or drive in the same crazy way they would in good weather.

There also was truck crash on I-83 that closed the road down. Traffic was diverted to the PA turnpike. I spent about an hour crawling about two miles up 83. When I got on the PA turnpike, there were no detour signs, so I had to guess where to go - luckily I guessed right.

There was more construction where 81 meets 78. Luckily, they had signs up suggesting an alternate route (222) and I decided to try it. It was very smooth - minimal traffic and nice scenery. It was exactly what the Liberals would refer to as "Jesusland" - farms, a few insustrial buildings, used car dealerships, unbranded gas stations, and lots of trees. It's interesting to see a huge (several football fields) wharehouse right accross from grazing cows.

It took me about 5 hours to get home, when it normally take me 3 and a half. Still, it's nice to be home. I've got some studying to do for a test next week, but other than that I plan on eating turkey, hitting the Black Friday morning sales (thanks to Target, I will be getting awoken at 4:30 by a robotic call from Heidi Klum. I'm going to visit a winery with my parents on Saturday, and driving back on Sunday. So don't expect a whole lot of blog posts....

Things I'm thankful for...

With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I would come up with a list of things I'm thankful for. Some are more serious than others:

-That Bush won the election

-That despite claims to the contrary by some on the left, we live in a country where we are pretty much able to do what we want, say what we want, wear what we want, sleep with whom we want, live where we want, watch and read what we want, worship (or not) how we want, and in general live our lives in a manner that we choose rather than a manner that is decreed by the government. I may complain about high taxes, and think the federal government could reach a little less into certain areas of our lives, but compared to socialist countries or Islamic theocracies, we have it pretty damn good.

-blogging. What would I do with my time without it?

-beer. As Homer (Simpson) said, it's the cause of, and solution to, all of life's little problems.

-the fact that my employer keeps letting me work overtime

-the fact that I have a job, period

-the fact that there are people on eBay who are willing to pay way more than I did for stuff

-my family. They truly are a great bunch of people who care about me, are supportive of me no matter what stupid situation I've gotten myself into, and I owe them a debt I can never repay.

-the fact that there are people willing to join the armed forces, and accept low pay, horrible conditions, and possible serious injury or death, to defend those freedoms I mentioned in the second item of this post

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

All the puppets in the world won't change the fact that Bush won...

Dirty hippie protesters are complaining about the fact that they won't be able to easily protest the Bush inauguration.

I never understand what protesters think they are accomplishing. I think when the average American sees a bunch of people blocking traffic, carrying giant puppets, and cursing at police, they tend to side with the other side. Besides, Bush won, and all the protesting in the world will not change that.

I have a big problem with the fact that these people keep claiming that this is an attempt to crush their dissent. They act like there is no terrorist threat, like Bin Laden didn't release a tape last month talking about how the streets were going to run with blood, and like 4 planes didn't crash into buildings a little over 3 years ago. They also seem to ignore the fact that the posters at the Democratic National Convention were kept in a giant cage - so it's not just the Republicans who see danger from terrorists in public places.

Kinda makes the Religious Right look tolerant...

I saw this a while ago but haven't gotten to write about it until now.. via FreeWill comes this article about a 14 year old Iranian boy who was stoned to death for not honoring the Ramadan fast.

I think it's interesting that many on the left complain about the Religious Right in America, and yet are supportive of regimes like the Taliban that seek to impose a religious law far worse than any Chrisian televangalist can dream of. In America, if you are a pregnant woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock, chances are you qualify for free money from the government in terms of WIC, section 8 vouchers, ect. Under certain interpretations of Sharia law, you get the death penalty. Keep that in mind the next time someone calls you cruel for advocating welfare reform.

I fully support the seperation of church and state, but I think it's also important to realize what a good system of separation we have. As powerful as "Jesusland" may be as a voting block, they haven't made huge changes. Roe V. Wade is still the law of the land, the Federal Marriage Ammendment got shot down, and Roy Moore had to take his 10 commandments out of the courthouse.

If the worst religious oppression we can find is kids singing Christmas songs on government property and not kids getting pelted with rocks for eating lunch, I think we are in good shape.

The mouth of the south meets the Northern Alliance..

Despite being halfway across the country, I've joined the Northern Alliance team for the Spirit of America challange. Hey, Bill Hobbs started it, and The Elder seems to be encouraging it.

Seriously, it's a good cause, so please consider donating.

I started to write this post, but then I got shot

A recent study shows Baltimore is the 11th most dangerous city in America. It also placed 3rd for cities with populations over 500,000 and the Baltimore-Towson metro area placed 20th for most dangerous metro area.

I mean, it's great to see your city excel at something, but I wish it was of a little more positive nature...

Monday, November 22, 2004

I'm very NRO

Can you guess what blogger sent this email to the National Review Online's The Corner?

I'll give you a hint - his name rymes with Rad Ranthony.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Can I get a number 2, with a side of attitude?

I work Saturdays, overtime, babysitting the technology at a satelite college campus. Normally I'm running really late, so I stop at Royal Farms for a healthy breakfast consisting of a 24 ounce coffee and a king size candy bar. I was only running slightly late this morning, so I figured I'd splurge and go to Burger King and get a nice bag of grease.

I ordered a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit combo, large coffee. Total was $3.14. Pay with a $5. Cashier hands me some change, says that he has to get a dollar. takes several minutes for him to get it. By the time he comes back with my dollar, I've forgotten how much he owes me, and while I try to remember, I go "is that right". His response was something like Yea, I only owe you a dollar, followed by a muttered comment that sounded like either "I'm not going to school you in money, homeboy" or "you aren't going to get my money, homeboy", followed by "I owe you $1.87".

Yes, he was right. Addition is not Mad Anthony's forte, especially at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. But his comment was basically an an accusation that I was either stupid or trying to rip him off, and that's not exactly good customer service. I'm not one of those people who thinks that customers should be able to take a poop on the floor, and then say "clean it up, the customer is always right", but I also think it's usually a good idea to give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

Besides not making his comment, there are a couple things BK could have done that would have prevented the situation - given me a reciept, and had some singles in the till in the first place (customers paying cash for fast food? imagine!). Telling their employees not to refer to their customers as "homeboy" might also be something to consider.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Great ad placement, guys...

While reading an article about Novell suing Microsoft for the failure of WordPerfect, I noticed a rather interesting juxtaposition of advertising that I had to take a screenshot of - an ad for Windows Media Player 10 next to the article on the MS lawsuit.

For what it's worth, the lawsuit strikes me as bull. It claims that Microsoft wrote Windows to break WordPerfect, as well as having advantages since they developed Windows, and that is why MS Office is the most popular office productivity program in the world, while about 3 people still use WordPerfect (and they all work where I do, and call the Helpdesk to complain that they miss it and hate Word).

It seems hard to believe that millions of other pieces of software get written by people and companies who also don't have access to the Windows source code, and work fine, but WordPerfect couldn't. I also think that WordPerfect failed because it had an unpleasant interface and a tendancy to shit the bed on a regular basis and need to be reinstalled.

Red state, blue state. One state, two state...

As amusing as I find this T-Shirt, I think that the media and some politicians are overemphasising the whole red state/blue state thing. Maybe it's just because I grew up in New Jersey, a blue state, and currently live in a blue state (Maryland), but voted for Bush. The fact is, though, that even the most liberal of places has some Bush voters (including Baltimore, where 17% of people went Bush), and the most conservative places have some Kerry voters. It's easy to declare that all Republicans are pickup-driving farmers who shop at wal-mart and have more guns than teeth, or that all Democrats are atheist PHD's who live in stylish lofts and drive Toyota Priuses, but any party that does that will lose, because the general public is much more diverse than that, and there is a fair amount of crossover from both sides.

There are two articles I think summerize this well - this Beleiefnet piece I found on Dean's World and this Weekly Standard article exerpted by Jeff at Protein Wisdom. The first article looks at religious views from both sides, while the second looks at the crossover of people in states that I mentioned above - saying that there are no red and blue states, only different shades of purple.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Are tech people liberal?

WSJ/OpinionJournal's Best of The Web for today starts off with a professor who thinks that a reversal of the Roe V Wade decision would help "blue" states like Conneticut. The idea is that without Roe V Wade, abortion would be up to the states, and socially liberal people tend to be well educated, the ranks of technology workers and creative types could swell here. And that, clearly, would be a boon for the state's vibrancy and prosperity

As Tarantino properly points out, it's hard to imagine abortion being so important an issue to people that they would settle in a state because of it - it would be pretty easy to drive to an abortion-legal state to get an abortion if you need one, then drive home.

Do you notice, though, that whole "liberals are smarter than conservatives" thing they've managed to slip in? It brings back memories of the whole Bush and Kerry IQ debate. I'll grant that liberals tend to be more "creative", but there are only so many people one can employ to create art out of poop. When it comes to creativity at making money, I think conservatives and moderates do pretty well. As far as technology, I would disagree that libs hold some kind of monopoly in tech.

I work in tech support for a college, and many of employees would be described as conservative or moderate. We're probably the best-armed department in the college, based on the number of gun owners and enthusists. I guess you could argue that a college isn't an accurate gauge of tthe attitude ofech people, and my college tends to be more conservative/moderate than many, but general wisdom would suggest academia tends to be liberal, so it does seem interesting that we have so many conservatives.

Dude, that's my car!

Professor Bainbridge has traded in his beemer for a PT Cruiser. OK, he hasn't actually traded it in, it's a rental while his beemer's in the shop.

As the owner of a 2002 PT Cruiser (limited edition, inferno red), I was interested to read his brief review.

I agree with him that it's roomy and has great visability. I think the engine could use more pep, but I don't know if the one he had was a turbo or not (I bought mine before the turbos came out, and I think they may have upped the HP a little on the normaly aspirated ones as well since I bought mine).

As far as his complaints, I don't really find the seats uncomfortable, but then again I don't drive a beemer like him either (and the only other car I've ever owned was an '87 K-car). I do agree with him on the cupholders - as someone who drinks a lot while on the road, they are horrible - the front as one middle cupholder in the console, and two smaller combination cupholders/eyeglass holders further forward near the radio. Worst of all, they are all fixed width and don't hold really big cups.

This always struck me as strange for Chrysler, a company that knows better when it comes to cupholder design. My parents have a 1998 Plymouth Voyager, and it has the world's greatest cupholders. They pull out from the dashboard, they are adjustable, and they hold a 44oz Big Gulp. Why Chrylser didn't find a way to adapt them to the Cruiser is beyond me.

Monday, November 15, 2004

All signs indicate.. time to start drinking..

The college I work at is well known for it's drining - it was #17 on the "lots of hard liquor" list on the Princeton Review (if I rember correctly), and has made some alchol-related list on for the last couple years.

In an effort to reduce drinking, one of the school's organization has posted signs with supposed stats showing people aren't quite as drunk as the perception. The problem is that the signs are not terribly encouraging. Some of the slogans include "11% of students don't drink at all", "4 out of 10 students don't drink on Thursday night" and " 1 out of 3 students alternate alcholoic and non-alcoholic drinks while drinking". Not huge confidence builders.

I've proposed some new signs myself that are just as discouraging, but more fun:

"1 out 10 students is not drunk RIGHT NOW"

"10 out 10 students only drink on days that end in Y"

"3 out of 10 students have never had their stomachs pumped"

"7 out of 10 students have committed acts of vandalism of less than $100 while drunk"

"1 out of 3 students have not wrapped the brand new Navigator that Daddy bought them around a telephone pole while drunk as shit"

"10 out of 10 guys who play Dungeons and Dragons on a regular basis say that drinking has not helped them get laid"

How to call tech support...

A while ago, my coworker pjf (who occasionally posts at NewsAmuse) sent me this funny and very accurate list of ways to annoy tech support. I work at a college help desk, and have a few more suggestions to add:

1) Try to curse within the first sentence of your phone call. Nothing makes a help desk tech want to help you than having you curse at them before they have even said anything to you. It really shows what an smart pwerson you are Here's an example of an actual conversation from today to get you started:

Mad Anthony: Tech support, how can I help you?

caller: "my internet won't f*cking work"

2) Always point out how important your computer is to do your job. Say something like "I need this to do my job". Most of our users just have computers on their desks for solitare and surfing porn, so this will get you to the top of the list.

3) call every 2 hours to check on the status of your work order. Otherwise, we'll just forget about it. That work order number we give doesn't mean we actually plan on, you know, doing the work order.

4) Speaking of work order numbers, you can just ignore that. We like trying to find your ticket. Make a point to flat-out lie and say you didn't get a ticket number when we ask.

5) If you are important enough to have a secretary, have them call in your problem. Make sure they know nothing about your problem. This lets us have great conversations in which your secretary tells us you can't log in, then can't answer any questions about what's happening, then gets annoyed that we can't magically fix the problem with no information.

6) If you get an error message that appears to be informative and written in plain english, ignore it. However, if you get a totally generic message like "windows explorer has encountered an error and needs to close" or a message written entirely in hexadecimal, write it down, and then get annoyed when the tech can't instantly figure out your problem from the error message.

5) If the tech asks you to click on something, don't even bother trying to find it before telling the tech that "you don't have that on your computer". It's not possible that you haven't noticed the start menu or the tools/options menu in internet explorer - you probably have a special version of Windows that doesn't have those things.

6) If you are a Mac or Linux user in an organization that has 90% Windows machines, make a point of avoiding mentioning that to the person on the phone. Rather, tell them 15 times that you can't find the start menu when they ask you to click on it, then innocently as if it matters that you are on a Mac.

7) In the same vein, if you don't like the fact that your organization doesn't support Macs/FireFox/OS2/Linux/DEC VAX/Eudora or whatever obscure or outdated technology you prefer, repetedly point this out to the tech on the phone. Chances are they make all the decisions about what the organization purchases and will get right on it on your say-so.

8) If you are thinking of purchasing a piece of software or hardware that you expect to work with our network, make sure you buy it first, then yell at us when it doesn't work with our system even after we spend hours trying to get it to work.

9) sometimes, a tech will go out of their way to support something that they don't technically support, or do you a favor like help you with your home PC. Make sure that they are punished for this by complaining to their manager the instance something goes wrong.

10) twist the tech's words whenever possible to try to justify them doing something that they aren't supposed to. For example, ask the Helpdesk if there is anything that will prevent you from using iTunes on the network. Then, when your iPod battery dies, complain that "someone told me this would work and now you won't fix this"

11) Don't allow any time to troubleshoot or resolve the issue before demanding the most extreme solution. For example, if you can't access your email, demand that the organization change email systems - even though this would involve migrating 25,000 accounts, while your problem can be solved by turning off your caps lock key.

12) Ask the tech on the phone broad rhetorical questions like "why do computers crash" and then yell at the tech for not being able to answer the question to your satisfaction.

13) Even if you clicked the no box on the "do you want to save this document" box, it's still the tech's fault you lost your document.

14) If you have a problem with your computer, wait 2 days for the problem to resolve itself. When it doesn't, call the helpdesk and say that you need it fixed quickly, since you have been without a computer for 3 days.

15) If you get two pieces of advice, one from a knowledgeable person with a conclusion you don't like, and the other from someone who has no idea what they are talking about, believe the latter. For example, let's say you bought a Tivo and the guy at Best Buy says it will work with your college's phone system, but the guy at the helpdesk says it won't. Never mind that the guy at Best Buy would tell you that the Tivo can perform oral sex if he thought it would seal a sale, while the helpdesk guy owns a Tivo and lived at the college for three years. You should still insist that the helpdesk guy is wrong becaus the Best Buy drone said it would work.

16) insist that the intentional design of systems is a problem. For example, lets say you run out of space on your network drive, and you call us and we give more space. Call back 2 weeks later after adding another 500 megs of stuff, and complain that "you thought this was resolved but now it's saying I'm out of space again".

17) Sometimes we will put a message up on the helpdesk line to let people know of a known issue that we are working on or a system that is down. You can do two things with this: ignore it, and then launch into a lengthy discussion of how you can't print, despite the fact that you just spent the last 30 seconds listening to a message detailing that the print server is down. Alternativly, you can assume it applies to you when it doesn't, and blame a phone system outage at a satellite location for excel crashing on you.

19) Call in during a major crisis, like a server or network outage, and ask for something that can't be done because of the outage, such as restoring a file to a network drive that you can't access because the file server is down. When we refuse to do this, be sure to call our boss' boss a few days later and complain about the poor service you recieved. Don't mention the server outage or the technical impossibilty of your request. We will surely be given the talking-to we deserve.

20) If you get a popup on your computer, take what it says as gospel. We should not allow you to do such dangerous things as broadcast an IP address.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I'm not sorry. I am, however, somewhat turned on...

Jim Treacher has been making fun of the incredibly stupid We're Not Sorry website with his posts here and here and here (to start with).

I, however, have to say that I am enjoying We Are Not Sorry, a pro-Bush take on things.

Bush supporters are quite proud to show off their F-150's, their Monte Carlos, their guns (rawr!), or their smokin' hot female bodies. It's refreshing to know that the liberals haven't gotten all the hot chicks - you can bet her sweet ass on it.

Although if I drove a Fiero, I don't know if i'd call attention to it. But if I posed with Jenna, I sure as hell would.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Scenes from work, lunch edition, part 2

coworker: Sometimes it seems like we insist on buying a solution from IBM, even when another vendor has a better product.

Me: I know. Sometimes I think that if IBM started selling human fecal matter, and branded it the ThinkPoop, we would have a new policy that every student got a steaming bucket of ThinkPoop upon arriving on campus.

Scenes from work, lunch edition, part 1

Fellow employee from another department: Sometimes I think you're whole department is crazy. You should start slipping Prozac into the coffee.

Me: But where would I get Prozac from?

Employee: Well, I keep getting spam advertising prescription drugs. There's gotta be one that's legit.

Me: Yup, spam is always legit. That's how I now have an eight foot penis. And a shiny Rolex.

Employee: Must be hard to put on pants in the morning.....

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Nickle and Dimed and debunked...

Via Tim Blair comes this excellent article from City Journal about the myths of the working poor.

I loved the ending. While I know that some of the poor have more obstacles than the average person to overcome, I've always rejected the idea that all poor people are poor through no fault of their own. At least some of them have made bad choices, or have different goals (having kids, drinking before noon) that conflict with the ability to earn lot of money. So I like the conclusion:

To stay out of poverty in America, it's necessary to do three simple things, social scientists have found: finish high school, don't have kids until you marry, and wait until you are at least 20 to marry. Do those three things, and the odds against your becoming impoverished are less than one in ten. Nearly 80 percent of everyone who fails to do those three things winds up poor.

I also like the fact that the article beats on Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickle and Dimed, a book where she worked a couple minimum wage jobs in various locations and complained about evil capitalists. She also talked at my college my senior year in a lecture I had to attend for a class.

I actually read her book while I was between jobs and had lots of time to kill. It was pretty awful. As City Journal points out, she set herself up to fail. City Journal points out that she only worked for a month at each job, which meant that she would never move up and get higher pay.

However, the fact that she moved to places she had no ties to also made it harder. I've found my last 2 apartments (at reasonable, if not below market, rents) thanks to friends. Most single employees have some support system - friends, family, boyfriends/girlfriends - to rely on. By eliminating that support system, she made life seem tougher than it really was. The fact that she had no verifiable employment history or experience probably didn't help her either.

I was hoping this package would be a laptop, but it turned out to be a loaf of bread...

I bought another Toshiba Libretto off eBay a couple weeks ago (the last one I bought arrived damaged). This one is a Japanese-only one, slightly faster than the ones imported to the U.S. The Libretto is a mini-laptop made in the late 90's (they still make them in Japan, with Transmeta Caruso processors). It's about the size of a VHS tape, but contains an entire computer (PII processor, win9x, ect).

I had it shipped to work, so my ghetto-ass neighbors wouldn't steal it. The seller shipped it about a week and a half ago, so when I saw a box in our office today, I was excited - until I picked it up and realized that it was too light to be my new toy.

It turned out to be a loaf of bread, which netted me some strange looks from my coworkers. I do market research studies for a couple companies (free money!), and one of them sent me a loaf of bread to test as a follow-up to a survey I took.

So I left the bread at work, and I'm bringing a jar of gnutella and a butter knife with me... breakfast!

I'm hoping I get the Libretto soon though.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Best Buy hates me...

Slashdot linked a couple days to this article from Ars Technica (originally from the Wall Street Journal, free this week), about Best Buy changing it's strategy to go after high margin customers, and making a point of avoiding low margin customers.

Now some of the stuff that Best Buy is trying to avoid isn't just frugality, it's fraud (buying stuff, sending in the rebate, returning it). But some of the stuff, like taking advantage of rebates/coupons/sales items/rewards cards, is fine. They also don't like people who resell stuff on eBay, which I also do.

I haven't set foot in a Best Buy in about a year, so I guess their strategy is working. A few years ago, they used to have some pretty good deals, but lately it's dried up. Their reward zone program is a joke - I joined because they gave me a 1 year membership, but I never bought enough to get a single reward, and I never renewed it. I do have - and have used recently - free rewards cards from Officemax, staples, office depot, and other stores that sell at least some of the stuff that Best Buy does.

I think many people are becoming more cost concious, and this could wind up hurting Best Buy in the long run. The other thing is that cheap people do occasionally make big purchases, and they probably won't even consider buying from Best Buy if they never get good deals on smaller ones - which is why my $500 19" LCD monitor is from CompUSA, my RePlay is from, my reciever and dvd player are from eCost, and my surround sound speakers are from Circuit City.

I can understand why Best Buy wouldn't want me as a customer - by buying stuff retail and reselling it, I'm competing with them, at their expense. I also actually remember to send rebates in ($7,581.82 since I started counting in December 2002). But as comparision shopping online becomes easier and people become smarter about money, I wonder if more people will become cheap and avoid Best Buy.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The French love Mad Anthony...

I saw an interesting Google ad on the side of my blog a couple days ago... it seemed so out of place that I had to take a screen shot.

Considering how much I love those cheese-eating surrender monkeys, plus my personal struggles with the French language, which cost me Dean's List several semesters in college along with nearly making me lose my merit-based scholarship, it seemed really funny to have an ad in French on my blog.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Counting blogs! One blog, two blogs, three, three blogs!

The Truth Laid Bear - a guy who definitly knows something about blog traffic - has a look at the stats behind a CNN article that says blogs are far below the MSM in election viewership. He points out that the data is from comScore, which tracks viewers, and sees that a difference in the definition of views vs. unique visitors is the reason for the discrepancy between comScore and the SiteMeter visits on those pages.

I wonder if there is some selection bias taking place as well. According to the methodology page linked, they randomly contact people to be tracked, and convince them to sign up to have their online viewing habits tracked by giving them virus protection, "faster internet", sweepstakes entries, and "a chance to improve the internet".

I don't know about you, but that's not enough for me to let anyone track my internet surfing habits. I have good virus protection, a nice fast DSL connection, a healthy dose of skepticism for sweepstakes, and lots of privacy concerns. I think this is probably shared by most bloggers and readers, and I doubt too many of them would take up comScore's offer in exchange for thier surfing privacy.

My guess is prizes like those offered would appeal to the less educated, less tech savy, and less affluent - who are exactly the people who don't read blogs, or even know what they are. They are the people who would be willing to sign up with comScore.

There are probably other factors as well - I'm guessing, for example, that comScore's tracking software is probably Windows based, shutting out Mac and Linux users - who are a small percentage of overall internet users, but are frequently higher educated, more technical, and more wealthy that average.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Are Republicans dumb?

While many Dems have accepted that the democratic process works, that they ran a good campaign but more people prefered Bush, there seem to also be a lot who are going with the whole Republicans are dumb school of thought.

I don't really feel like fisking this article, both because reading it makes my stomach hurt more than usual, and becase it's so out there it's like trying to fisk the Chronicle of the Elders of Zion. But there seem to be a fair number of people who buy into the idea that anyone who voted for Bush is a moron.

I don't think Democrats are idiots. I do think that many do not see the threat of Islamic terrorism as seriously as I do, and I think they are wrong about that. I think many of them believe in social policies that are designed to help people by redistributing wealth, but wind up leaving people worse off in general. I don't think they are driven by stupidity, just that they frequently think with their hearts instead of their heads.

I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 million—my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.)

It takes a major amount of chutzpuh to call the other side ignorant, and then accuse them of having "feeling of superiority"

Most of the article tries to draw parallels between the sterotypical redneck who refuses to believe in evolution and the average Republican. I can't for the life of me remeber where, but I've seen an interesting breakdown of the votes for Bush - he got 45% of the Catholic vote, 25% of the gay vote, 11% of the Black vote, ect. Sure, the Dems got more from those areas, but it suggests that the Republican party is a little more diverse than people on the left paint it. As this map shows, even the blue states have a lot of red in them. Even Baltimore City, where something like 90% of the state is registered Dems, went 17% for Bush.

Some liberals can't seem to grasp that Republicans aren't just guys named Bubba who drive pickups and enjoy shooting. They are small business owners, college students, mothers, veterns, secrataries, and a host of other people of various economic backgrounds, who live in lots of different places. As long as they fail to grasp that, they have no chance of winning the presidency, because when they paint Republicans as dumb, people in the middle - those who like aspects of both parties, those who are religious, ect - start to feel that the Dems are way too left and out of touch for them.

One more line:

The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant.

Not wanting the government to tell you what to do isn't ignorance - it's freedom. And when the government tells you what to do, it's not democracy.

Will XM replace the iPod? No...

MSN is running this article on "will XM replace the iPod" on their website's main page. My answer -no.

While the author is right that the new color screen iPods are not exactly a leap of technological brilliance, XM seems to be the answer to a question few ask. Why would I want to pay $500 to listen to their music when I can use my iPod (that I paid $200 for - a second gen clearanced at Target when the 3rd gens came out) to listen to whatever I want? The added flexibiltiy of the 'pod (like being able to plug it into my G4 at work and play songs off iTunes) only add to it's appeal.

Some random thoughts on the election, and poop...

I know - I run a mostly political blog, and I have said very little about the reelection of the candidate I fully supported. But I've been busy - working 6 days a week, taking 2 college classes, selling piles of junk on eBay, ect. Also, my stomach has been bothering me for the last week and a half, inspiring fun conversations with my doctor on the frequency with which I poop.

I'm glad that Kerry decided not to have a long, protracted, and unwinnable legal battle. I won't hold it against him that he didn't concede on Tuesday night, since he did so elequently on Wednesday.

I thought his speech was good - although I was a little creeped out when he named all the kids who sent him money. Isn't there something disturbing about 6 year olds sending their allowance money to a guy who lives in a chateau imported from Europe and has more cars than most rappers?

The Dems saw that the youth vote wasn't as big as they expected. Not listing to PDIDDY, many kids neither voted nor died. They also seem to be excited that they gained a point or two above previous years. Nevermind that around 45% of young people still voted for Bush - which seems pretty good considering how hard Kerry, Moore, et al went after the youth vote and all the rumors of a draft.

Slate has lots of Democrats reacting to the election - some of them are well thought out and well-written while others go with the idea that all Republicans are bible thumping morons. More on that later.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Scenes from work, part 8

Coworker (sarcastically): Mad Anthony agrees with everything that Michael Moore says, right?

Me: I do agree with Michael Moore's views on the tastyness of bacon. On pretty much every other issue, I oppose him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

My college newspaper makes the big time...

The newspaper of my Alma Matter, Loyola College in Maryland, has made the Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal Best of the Web for it's rather silly headline about the impact of the election. Scroll down to "Then Again, Maybe Not".

Now if only we would get GOOD publicity...


I know - I run a mostly political blog, and I haven't posted anything on the election yet. I have been busy, and I was trying to get a bunch of stuff done while I was watching FOX last night (and peeking into the command post chat room every now and then. I stayed up to 12:30, went to bed, then woke up at 4am and checked Drudge before going back to sleep.

I'm pretty happy with the results - despite Kerry's blabber about counting the provisional ballots, I see little chance of anything changing in Ohio, thus meaning that W will continue to be prez.

I thought it was going to be a close election and it was, although I am glad to see that Bush won the popular vote (and it makes me feel good that I bothered voting in a state where Bush had the chances of an ice cube in a toaster oven).

Beyond the fact that I think Bush will do a better job of protecting America and keeping it prosperous, I'm glad to see him win because this irritates the heck out of the people like who have ReDefeat Bush lawn signs or the woman who was standing on the corner of Charles and Homeland yesterday afternoon with a "the cost of war" sign with pictures of dead Iraqi kids on it (never mind the cost of not going to war, or how objectionable libs find this when the pictures are of aborted fetuses).

The fact that Thune beat Daschle in South Dakota also bodes well for the Republicans. Despite a media that perenially seems to regard Republicans as some sort of crazy martian life, there are lots of Republicans out there, and they have shown their faces today (well, yesterday).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Driven to drink...

The first article on yesterday's best of the web contains this brilliant quote from Ben Johnson, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee:

No one has a monopoly on morality in this country. And if you want to talk about morality, I mean, look at George Bush's daughters. If he was such a heck of a father, why couldn't he keep those girls from drinking?

Do they really think this will help them get votes? I think most college students who entered college after the drinking age was raised to 21, myself included, drank underage at some point in their college careers. I don't think too many of them think that was because of poor parenting. The college I graduated from actually has fliers up pointing out that "11% of students don't drink at all" - which means that a lot of underage students do.

Monday, November 01, 2004

You don't wanna mess with me...

I got an odd email yesterday - a PayPal bill for $20 with no message from some guy I've never heard of, sent to an email that I no longer use as my primary PayPal address for transactions.

I'm guessing the guy got my email address (I have a theory how, but I don't really want to mention it on this blog) and others and is sending people random bills on the theory that they will think they owe him money (maybe they bought something off of ebay or the like) and pay him. Interesting scheme.

I googled the guy's name and email address and came up with this post where he's trying to get stolen credit cards - and yup, that's his email address.

I'm guessing this guy isn't the brightest light bulb on the Christmas tree if he's using his real name and thinking people will just email him stolen credit card numbers out of the goodness of their crooked little hearts.

I did email PayPal, but I'm debating what else I can do. I really want to take this guy down.