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Showing posts from January, 2005

Love the Wookie

With Star Wars: The Final Payoff set to hit the movie theatres this year, it's time to geek out and get your costume ready.

Sorry, I know you don't have a costume. But, you were thinking about it. However, you're unable to make that leap and actually, you know, make a costume. Have no fear, my space epic-loving, slightly off-kilter, friend. Rebelscum has your opening-night, identity-obscuring needs covered. Whether for just you or your family, attend the latest chapter of George Lucas' continuing cash stockpiling in style.

Inside the Monkeysphere

I'm not sure how to file this one; either it's brilliant or bonkers. Either way, it's an enjoyable read and something where you occasionally catch yourself going "hmmm". Of course, then you look behind you to make sure no one in your office sees you on a web page with pictures of monkeys, but that shouldn't distract from the message.

Later, a far more cynical man sat the monkeys down and said, "you want bananas? Each of you go get your own. I'm taking a nap." That man, of course, was German philosopher Hans Capitalism.

As long as everybody gets their own bananas and shares with the few in their Monkeysphere, the system will thrive even though nobody is even trying to make the system thrive. This is perhaps how Ayn Rand would have put it, had she not been such a hateful bitch.


The Law of Monkey

Want to know why Detroit (and this country's economy) is dying?

Read this article and find out. Unions are becoming so irrelevant, they openly flaunt their ability to screw over the companies which their members work for. This type of behavior is not helping anyone. And, I guarentee, anyone who thinks that this story will happen much longer is an idiot.

Congratulations, UAW, you just earned yourself another layoff and more jobs going offshore. When you wonder why, make sure to re-read this article.

10,000 idle autoworkers pocketing $1.3 billion

Don't know much but 'bout this, but...

Rest in Peace - Michael Van Dyke

Just got off the phone with my brother about the passing of someone we used to know quite well. He wasn't someone we'd seen in a while, but he was a friend none the less. I haven't seen him since I left town, but I always hoped the best for him. 26 years old, dead of a heart attack.

My condolences to his family and friends. Mike was one of the most unique people I can think of. Rest in peace.

Link to obituary

The Michigan Daily - freakin' wow

I just don't even know where to start with this one.

Someone named, and I'm not making this up, Joel Hoard, Oh Yeah? has written an op/ed piece in the Record that is so unbelievably disconnected from any point, it's painful to read. His politics aside (and he's merely the latest cog in the Record's agenda wheel), his argument about the "debate" (a term even I'll use lightly) between Creationists and the scientific community is, uh, lacking.

In fact, he succumbs to the same thing of which he (rightly) criticizes those promoting Intelligent Design; he has a conclusion already drawn and he's writing from that perspective. I'll give him a minor pass because it's an op/ed, of a sort, and that's a frequent technique for these things. My criticism is more concerned with the unstated and unaddressed conclusions.

He raises the issue that creationists use the excuse that there are missing links in the evolutionary record. His rebuttal basically amo…

Stop the bulldozers! Don't destroy Frieze!

I really don't care if the U builds a dorm at the Frieze site, but this letter to the editor in the Ann Arbor News is just too funny to pass up. After making three reasonable arguments, mostly surrounding the historical nature of the building, Susan Wineberg blows us away with that crescendo point number 4.

It's not something tangible, it's something so emotional that only... "Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Ani DiFranco" can tell us what it means.

A fourth reason is the emotional impact on the community. Many graduates have a visceral attachment to this building and demolishing it destroys memories and our link to the past, which Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Ani DiFranco notes "reinforce our humanity."

There must be a ton of graduates who have lost their memories because the University has probably demolished more than it's share of buildings in the 188 years it's been around. Maybe students should have visceral attachment…

Comic round-up

This has been a good week for comics and their writers.

First up, Penny Arcade does it again, taking the major sports leagues to task for these idiotic exclusive deals with various game companies. Why is this bad for video games? Because.

And Auchtoon does it again. Now, I'm no economist (and nowhere near retirement) so this social security thing hasn't blipped too much on my radar (I know, I know), but Auchtoon takes a decidedly local spin on this issue. Hell, even I chuckled. Link

And, of course, Dilbert is killer this week as well. Well, Sunday was anyway.

Douglas Adams honored by International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center

In a tribute fitting a man of his caliber, an asteroid has been named in honor of the author, humorist, and activist. Asteroid 2001 DA42 is now known as douglasadams. MSNBC helped in the naming process, although it's not exactly clear what they did other than suggest him as a candidate. If they were the only ones, I would be extremely surprised. Nonetheless, the asteroids name obviously has significance for any Adams' fan. I let MSNBC say it:

Not only did it memorialize the year of Adams' death (2001) and his initials (DA), but it also referenced the number 42 — which is absurdly meaningful in the "Hitchhiker" saga as the "answer to the Ultimate Question."

It's an honor far too long in coming, but well deserved and appreciated by his millions of fans. I know I personally want to thank Adams for giving me the spark to read and write, showing me that brilliance, humor, and science are not mutually exclusive things.


Bloggers and journalism

Much has been written about the New Journalism; that somewhat revolutionary way of publishing that boggles the minds of many newspapermen and cheers the fanboys to no end. I don't profess to be Dan Gillmore (or, for that matter, any of the people who rank in the Technorati), but I was a journalism-type person at one time and earned recognition as a writer at one time (now, long past, I'm sad to say).

This issue, is a blogger a journalist, has taken on a life of its own. The debate has centered not around when to abide the same protections given a journalist to a blogger, but when to deny a bloggers ability to publish what would be acceptable-or, not to put to fine a point on it, required-of a journalist.

The examples are piling up everyday. Dan Rather. The Kerry Vietnam films. The Bush Vietnam record. Ken Jennings. The damage being done to the 1st Amendment is beginning, and the freedom of the press, that esteemed fourth estate, is next in the sites of the sharks.

But is every bl…

Moment of clarity

I just had a moment of clarity, and it creeped me out. I won't relate who's blog I was reading, but suffice it to say I was exploring my region when it dawned on me what bothers me so much about Ann Arbor and zealots in general. They define themselves via hate.

I'm talking about a lot of groups here, but the one that struck me was someone defining themselves via their feelings on the current administration. While that can of worms threatens to explode all over the place, I'll leave it alone since I have problems with Bush an Co. myself (asta la vista Ashcroft; don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out), but seriously, when you define yourself, who you are, with something you hate, that's a serious issue.

These same people would come out of the woodwork if I went around defining myself as someone who's not to keen on the current state of minority rights. It feeds back into the attitude around blogs that as long as you conform to some pre-defined way…

Stupidest... line... ever

This line takes the cake, and makes me reflect that, while I live in the alternate reality of Ann Arbor, I don't live in the City (that's San Francisco). Why is that important? Because of lines like this:

While the goal is reducing plastic bag pollution, paper was added so as not to discriminate.

Thank god all those paper bags aren't being discriminated against. Well done, San Francisco.


New icon

I was really bored on Thursday. Finally traced this from source sketch.

Blockbuster online

J-- and I signed up for the trial of Blockbuster online, basically a NetFlix knockoff for about $3 cheaper (for now). A friend of mine in Grand Rapids had NetFlix and raved about it. The office was buzzing about Napolean Dynamite, so we figured what better time to get a couple free movies on trial then now. We queued up our first movies on Monday; they were in our mailbox on Wednesday. Not bad. We'll see if it keeps up.
Now that we actually have an online movie service, I wonder about how we'll use it. We are the classic want-to-watch-something-good people, but we're also the too-lazy-to-go-to-the-video-store people as well. And Blockbuster or Hollywood Video are literally 5 minutes away. (Yes, it's sad.)
But now, with the movies immediately available and automatically rotated, I have the feeling that popping in a movie isn't that big of a deal. We've watched two of the three we have out already and would have mailed the two back if the damn weather wasn't go…

Kilpatrick off the hook? Bully-Cummings falls on sword

Oh man, looks like Detroit mayor Kilpatrick is squirming like he's Bill Clinton. He even found someone to fall on the sword for him. Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings is copping to the purchase of the vehicle and claiming... wait, let me quote it, it's classic:

"I’m not sitting here in retrospect saying it was the best decision in the world," Bully-Cummings said.

Uhm.. duh.
Wow, this guy is like Teflon... non-stick AND bad for your health.


And the beat goes on, buh duh dum da da dum

This just gets better and better. Channel 7, the local ABC channel here, went to the city Purchasing Department and asked to see requisition number 177316, a public document used to lease the Lincoln Navigator under suspicion. Guess what. They "lost" it. In the words of Dr. Evil, riiiight.

The mayor is going to make a public statement at 1pm today. Should be an interesting lie.

Detroit mayor is rotten to the core

For anyone outside of the metro Detroit area, this is a HUGE news story right now.

Basically, the mayor's office leased, for one year, a Lincoln Navigator, allegedly for the mayor's wife. Price? $24,995, exactly $5 under the amount that triggers a review by the City Council. Length of lease? 1 year. Oh, but Lincoln doesn't actually offer a 1 year lease, so the lease was for 2 years with the understanding the it would be returned in a year. Oh, and the lease (and the story) broke about three days after the mayor went on TV and told the city that more than 700 people would get laid off due to budget problems.

One of the local TV stations got a hold of this and sent the in-your-face "On Your Side" reporters to check it out. Lies ensued ("It was for the police", "It's a coincidence that it's the same plate as the mayor's wife's car from last year".. that kind of stuff) and the reporter followed the mayor to DC for a mayor's confe…

Iron Chef America

One of my intents for this year was to post fewer links to Blogcritics this year. I often post to them because they drift to the top of my subscriotion by virtue of the "B" in their name.

But, I have to link to this; a review of Iron Chef America. I should have said something about this as we actually watched it. This review pretty much says what I would have said: It's not the original, but what the hell.


Family Guy is back!

May 1st! Family Guy is back on Fox!

Seriously, if you haven't watched Family Guy, do yourseld a favor and rent or buy the first seasons. It is hands down the funniest show Fox had. Think Simpsons (before they started The Plunge) and then make it even more irreverent. No where else could you have the lead fat guy character lick his own nipple and have you falling off your chair laughing (that's a real joke, by the way).


New version of Picasa is out

I tried the initial version after Google bought the comapny and was underwhelmed. Not that version 1 wasn't a solid app, it just didn't do anything I couldn't do for myself with a decent folder structure.

This version seems to add some nice features, like sharing and collage. I may have to try this out again.


Comment issues

Apparently I'm still an idiot and hosed comments yet again. Apparently MT Blacklist wasn't playing nice with something, but it should be fixed now.

I still have comment moderation on, so you won't see your comments right away, but they will show up--eventually.


I love sushi; I think I've mentioned that before. Grand Rapids had one fairly decent place to go for sushi--Shogun. The Alpine Teriyaki & Sushi wasn't bad, it was just easy to get to for us when we lived there, hence the frequecy of visiting (two days in a row sometimes).
Here in the alternate reality of Ann Arbor, there's only one place to go (well, so far); Godaiko. They have really good rolls (tight and not too big) and the sashimi is usually pretty good, as long as you stay away from the whitefish. (That's not a dig at Godaiko, it's just a mid-range sushi restaurant issue all around.) Miki is ok, but it's overpriced for the quality you get and, well, it's downtown so you have to deal with that if you want to go on a weekend. Saica, on Plymouth, had potential, but we just keep going back to Godaiko.
Of course, that's all well and fine. But now I have a new bend on the whole sushi-love: making it myself! J-- got me a bunch of stuff for Christmas a…

Thunderbird to Outlook

I've been using Thunderbird for a while, but I'm seriously considering moving back to Outlook. Calendering, while not big, is becoming bigger. I have my planner, but it's got one huge downfall: I actually have to read it. Outlook will actively tell me "you're missing something".

Plus, I now have a license for Office 2003 (legally, believe it or not; perks of working for the University) and it's possible to go back Outlook. Yes, yes, I know, Evil Empire, Neo-Commies and all that, but the damn application works like I want it to (well, almost. When can I display my tasks along with my Inbox?)

Anyway, this post details one persons attempt to get his mail from Thunderbird to Outlook and I'm linking so I don't loose the resource. Just in case.

A little bit of Florida comes to Grand Rapids, unfortunately

You always know it's going to be bad when Fark picks up a story from the Grand Rapids Press.
Kidnap suspects, victim all land in jail
Ah yes.

A kidnapping and beating were bad enough for a 20-year-old Grand Rapids man, who Sunday night was eating at McDonald's with his girlfriend when three captors took him away.

Next came the ransom demand -- a paltry $800.

Five hours later, the victim was rescued by police -- and then thrown in jail along with his kidnappers. He had an outstanding charge, police said.

Here's a shocker; police "believe" it was drug related.

Fark has a "Florida" tag for weird stories like this that come out of The Sunshine State. It's already been proposed in the forums that Michgian get one as well. Articles like this aren't helping prevent that tag from appearing. *sigh*


Nothing like being a jackhole - Wiley cuts into web comics

In my constant surprise that there are people who not only don't get it, but openly and adamently opposed those who do get it, I have yet to see the old and new clash in full view of the public, and not just the blogosphere.
Case in point, Wiley, the guy who writes Non Sequitur, one of those comics you used to read but don't anymore because the characters long ago ceased being actual characters and started being mouthpieces for the artist. (Yes, I had that attitude before the events to-be-commented-upon.)
In short, Wiley doesn't like web comics, specifically PvP, which I mentioned before. He doesn't like the fact that Scott Kurtz is giving away his product for advertising revenue. And now he's taking public pot shots at Scott and web comics in general in his strip.
Penny Arcade has a great rebuttal. Warning: They like to swear, but they make a great point.

Miscarriages as crimes?

I'm from a fairly conservative background and even I don't get this one.

A Virginia state representative, John Cosgrove, has introduced legislation that would require women to report all miscarriages within 12 hours. ALL miscarriages...within TWELVE hours. Link

or, the actual text of the bill

When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of which the delivery occurs within 12 hours after the delivery. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. [Emphasis NOT mine]

What is the purpose of this? I get the on-our-way-to-banning-abortion tack to the Bill, but the Bill itself is a bit... uhm.. retarded. Natural miscarriages are, unfortunately, not that uncommon. They're also damned traumatic. Why anyone sees the need to add more trauma by requiring a legal requirement to report it is bordering on insane. And not hyperbolic insanity ei…

Whittaker Chambers vs Ayn Rand

NR's 50th Anniversary: Whittaker Chambers on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged on National Review Online

Ayn Rand is, well, whatever you think of her, she's rich. Which is pretty much what she set out to be. She's rich in that Scientology kind of way, with an "institute" and a pseudo-philosophy. She's also celebrating 50 years of living with Whittaker Chambers' too-long lost review of Atlas Shrugged, 1,110+ pages of, well, I'll let Mr. Chambers describe it:

Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal.

And that's not even the good part. National Review has posted this landmark book review (?) on it's website to commemorate the 50th anniversary of it's publication.

Of course, not everyone agrees with Mr. Chambers. Someone on Blogcritics, who classified his post (amoung other things) as being about Book…

Gadget lust - Dell's 20.1-inch LCD monitor

Clean up! Ryan's keyboard.

"20.1-inch 16:10 widescreen LCD display has a 1680x1050 WSXGA+ resolution, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a thin bezel, a 600:1 contrast ratio, 12ms response time (great for gaming), picture in picture capability, DVI, S-Video, and composite inputs, and an optional speaker sound bar [...] pick one up for around $600 with Dell discounts or coupons"



Conyers Shafting the Poor?

Is it really that hard for US Rep John Conyers (D-MI) to produce a document to account for distributing turkeys? A letter stating "we're giving you a boat-load of turkey. Happy Holidays!" or a news story puff-piece when his office passed them out? What's the hold up?

The director of a Detroit food bank wants to know what happened to 60 turkeys -- 720 pounds of frozen birds -- that his charity gave to members of U.S. Rep. John Conyers' local staff two days before Thanksgiving to give to needy people.

Conyers' Detroit office promised an accounting of any turkey distribution by Dec. 27, but the Gleaners Community Food Bank had received no paperwork as of Tuesday, said the charity's director, Agostinho Fernandes.

Fernandes said he became suspicious that the turkeys didn't get to poor people after hearing from a friend that a federal court worker had said he was offered free turkeys from a member of Conyers' staff.


More people who just don't get it

I'm starting a new movement. Actually, it's quite a big movement already, it just hasn't caught the attention of the important people in the world; you know them, they go by "progressive", "liberated", or "Blue stater". They're a huge group of people who are engaged in a grass-roots campaign to split this country right down the middle, both ideologically and geographically. They hate "fly-over states" and all that those huge tracts of land, oh wait, people, espouse to believe in.

My movement is this: shut up or I'll sick my mom on you.

Mars Rover 1-Year Old

I totally flubbed this one and now it's all over the 'net, but the Mars rover Spirit is one-year old today. Originally slated for a 2-month mission, it's so exceeded it's expected performance it's actually starting to overcome some of the bad press NASA has had in the past few years.

JPL has a really cool Flash retrospective on their site and people on Slashdot are bitching that it's all a PR stunt. Yeah, 'cause it's easy to stage a successful mission.


100 most popular Gutenberg downloads

Project Gutenberg, the site with thousands of free books available for download, has posted their top 100 of 2004. It's amazing to look at the great stuff availble for free thanks to the contributions of thousands of people all over the world. I need to get my Franz Kafka formatted and/or printed.

Link[via J-Walk]