February 28, 2003

Car bombed

State farm reminds you that nuclear blasts or radioactive damage are not normal road hazards.

However, it is still possible that if you cover your eyes during the nuclear flash, you'll go off the road and crash into something, which will be covered by your comprehensive insurance.

Time to check out those war clauses in your insurance.

Posted by rusty at 05:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lamenting the old Google

Dave Winer laments the old Google: ``Now what the world needs to replace Google is a Google like the one that we fell in love with, one that's working for the greater good, that points off site for no reason other than it's the right place to point to. Now with their patents, and their captured content, Google is no longer that. It's a loop because five years ago you could have said exactly the same about Alta Vista or Infoseek, after they became more than a just search engine.''

I hear you Dave. I too see Google turning into something different than we hoped. Now that they've got their search relevance patent they are more empowered to have Microsoft-like powers. (Hey, even Microsoft was cool once, back in the late 70s!)

And now we find out that they're on a cease and desist inquisition to stop people from using google as a verb (as in, to google for something).

The same thing happened to AltaVista. I remember when AltaVista was the geeks favorite search engine. Then something happened, they decided to become a portal, and it all went to hell from there. But soon Google appeared to fill the niche.

And after Google has turned into something that we don't like anymore, I'm sure that something else will fill its place.

Posted by rusty at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 26, 2003

Of course the people don't want war

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders ofthe country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering, Successor designate No. 1 to Hitler; Reich Minister for Air; President of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich; member of the Secret Cabinet Council; Reich Forest Master; Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force; Prime Minister of Prussia; President of the Prussian State Council; President of the Reichstag; Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan; Head of the "Reichswerke Hermann Goering"; Reichsmarschall; SS Obergruppenfuehrer; SA- Obergruppenfuehrer, at the Nuremberg trials, 18 April 1946.

Quote authenticated by Snopes.

Posted by rusty at 08:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Privacy arms race heats up

Castel has introduced new telemarketing dialing system that defeats the popular Telezapper device. I was wondering how long this would take to happen. The Telezapper emits a beep at the same frequency as the start of the SIT tones that identify a changed or disconnected number. Telemarketing dialers heard this and marked your number as no good, eliminating telemarketing calls.

Telemarketers are already getting away with putting fake caller ID messages to get past people who block non-IDed calls. How long will it be before forging the caller ID to look like your friends are calling you when it's really some damned marketer?

Telemarketing has become so annoying to me that I don't bother to answer the phone unless I'm sitting at my desk bored.... it's just not worth the interruption.

Posted by rusty at 08:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I have a cold... so I needed some drugs

I tend to be a bit of a pack-rat, I like to have good supplies of things on hand incase there is a power failure, big storm, or martial law breaks out and I can't leave the house. I think it comes from growing up in the suburbs and not having a corner store. Bit I digress...

So I have a cold, and I'm out of all my cold and allergy medicines. Last time I went to the drug store and stocked up, it was just ibuprofen, aspirin, soap and such. I thought I had plenty of cold and allergy stuff. Until I got sick.

So I go to Walgreens, and start stocking up, Tavist, Walgreen's generic psuedophedrine, some generic cold medicine that has 6 ingredients, and of course, some chocolate. There is a big sale, so I buy several boxes of each.

As I'm checking out, the cash register starts beeping! Turns out that I have exceeded the limit for cold medications. Apparently, bad guys are making nasty stuff with it, buying thousands of tablets at once.

This explains why the 24 count blister pack is the biggest package you can buy. I remember a few years ago, I could go anywhere and buy a 200 count bottle with far less annoying packaging for about the same price as 2 24 packs. I wondered why... now I know.

Posted by rusty at 06:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 25, 2003

Calling the kettle black...

William Randolph Hearst's grandson quoted in a Retuers article about the Examiner:: "I think he (William Randolph Hearst) would be disgusted to see something that he built up to be published by such amateurs," William Randolph Hearst III, who was the paper's publisher from 1984 to 1994, told Reuters. "It's a mockery."

Most people will remember that Hearst was known for his journalistic integrity, not for being the person who ruined H.G. Wells career.

As long as I can remember, the Examiner has been a second-rate paper. I'm not saying that it didn't get worse under the Fang's control, merely that it wasn't that great before they took control.

Posted by rusty at 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2003

War on Bongs

Quoted in a CBS news cheering on the war on bongs: "People selling drug paraphernalia are in essence no different than drug dealers," said John Brown, acting DEA chief. "They are as much a part of drug trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide."

I think the DEA is watching too much of the Sopranos. How many "silencers" are used in hoicides?

Repeat after me: Guns don't kill people, bongs do!

UPDATE: Interesting article about new laws that are targetting corner stores selling roses in little tube glass vases that can be easily used for crack pipes. I always wondered who would want something as tacky as that...

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tommy Chong's pipe company was one of the ones seized in these raids.

(I don't smoke pot, but I don't think it's any worse than alcohol or cigarettes and don't understand why something that grows naturally has been so singled out by the Justice Department.)

Posted by rusty at 02:46 PM | Comments (6)

Ready2Die.GOV

I've been seeing a lot of response to the ready.gov fearmongering site.

The slick infographics are wonderful building blocks for bloggers but my favorite is the one an anon SomaFM fan provided us.

Posted by rusty at 11:14 AM | Comments (4)

Dying gasps from the SF Examiner

The SF Examiner is soon to be history. Acquired by the Fang family, publishers of the useless SF Independent, a paper that is thrown like trash into residents front yards whether they want it or not, they've now decided to do the same thing with the Examiner. Only they won't throw it (thank you!) they'll just leave it in newsracks all over town.

I wondered how long the new tabloid style Examiner would last... especially since it's no longer part of SFGate.com. Even their Hearst-style headlines weren't enough to save them.

The layoffs were done in typical uncaring Fang style:

``The meeting lasted about 10 minutes. When workers returned to their desks, the computers were already shut down. They were given an hour to pack and leave. Guards waited by the stairwell and elevators as staffers exited. ''

I raise a toast to all the journalists who tried to make the Examiner work. And as much as I didn't like the editorial direction of the Examiner, I too mourn the loss of another daily urban paper.

Posted by rusty at 10:58 AM | Comments (6)

February 22, 2003

Whip 'em out boys

"When we show them [terrorists] American power they'll take off like a bunch of scared rats." - Retired Air Force Col. George "Bud" Day quoted in an associated press article.

Until now, I didn't realize how much this was merely a size contest.

So I suggest we skip the posturing, and bring Saddam and Bush to the table, have them whip 'em out, and demonstrate who really has the biggest dick!

Posted by rusty at 05:45 PM | Comments (5)

February 21, 2003

People do not think

"What good fortune for those that are in power, that people do not think."

You know who said this?

Adolf Hitler said "What good fortune for those that are in power, that people do not think."

Or more accurately, I think he said "Was Glück für die, die in der Energie sind, diese Leute nicht denken!"

But doesn't it hold true?

Posted by rusty at 06:29 PM

Great White Flames

In more proof that aging rockers can be really stupid, Great White burns down their venue and lots of people die.

Lesson learned: giant exploding fireworks in small enclosed buildings is bad.

Posted by rusty at 04:29 PM | Comments (5)

February 18, 2003

Burningman gets greedy

How many millions of dollars does it take to put on Burning Man?

Fom their latest mailing:

"There is one thing that Burning Man can say about its participants, we
are one PREPARED group of people! We love to plan our camps, our
costumes, our art and our contributions and oh yeah, we get our tickets
well in advance too. We are so prepared, in fact, that as of this
edition of the JRS, the following tickets levels are SOLD OUT
EVERYWHERE:

$145, $165, $175, and $185?!

The going rate for tickets is now $200. These tickets are available for
ONLINE sales ONLY. They are going fast, so hop to it and get yours
today! http://tickets.burningman.com/

Mail order and outlet sales now start at $225.

My first burningman, the tickets cost $35. The event is not six times better now.

Posted by rusty at 06:32 PM | Comments (1)

Tripping in West Hollywood

For Valentine/President day weekend, we made another pilgramage to The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, where we'll meet up with Daniele & Todd and several other friends

So Friday morning, we jump on Bart over to Oakland Airport. Because of all the increased security due to the so-called Orange threat we almost missed our flite, but Southwest happily lets people attempt to carry on overly large bags that can then be checked at the gate. We would have missed the flite if we had to check bags at the front counter. I need a mid-sized bag so I could carry it on without problems, but that's another story. And it was a good thing we didn't leave the next day!

We fly into Burbank Airport, which rocks. Close by, easy to get in and out, much closer to most of LA than LAX is. We rented the worlds crappiest late model car for only $18 a day at Enterprise, but hey, we aren't going to drive much in LA. Because we can't check into until 3pm, I drive Merin down to LACMA for the Sargent and Italy show. I then proceed to go to the store to stock up on the 3Cs for our room: candles, cocktails, chocolate.

The Sargent show was small, and Merin's already waiting for me out front. But surprise, she didn't think I'd have time to go by the store, so we can now head right to the Standard and check-in.

Entering the hotel, I smile, because it's just like I remember. The light brown low couches, the shag carpet that wraps up the wall and onto the ceiling, the hanging bubble chairs outside the diner, the neat semi-translucent treatment to the windows.

We check into room 129 - the same room Daniele & Todd had last year. We unpack the bar, the christmas lights, the candles, the iPod and CDs. The room is ready to go and a few minutes later Daniel & Todd arrive.

By now, somehow, it's almost 5pm, and we decide it's not worth waiting any longer to go out. We decided to start down the street, at the Bar Marmont. We're the first people there, so the nice bartender pours us good, strong drinks. The place is beautiful, and feels like it has been there forever. As more people start arriving, we realize we need some food, so we go over to Sushi on Sunset. Merin tells the bouncers we'll be back, and they remember us when we return after dinner.

By this time, I can't remember much. Another drink at Bar Marmont, then off to the room to freshen up and change to go out to the Standard Bar. At some point we wind up back in the lobby, which is in full swing. And while it's a "LA Scene", it's not a total LA Scene. Sure there are more fake breasts than you can shake a stick at, but the crowd is fairly diverse and hard to stereotype.

And everyone seems pretty damn nice, which is surprising for LA. At least when I lived there in the early 90s.

It's now after midnight, early but remember we started at 5pm. We all wander back to our rooms just 50 feet from the lobby, and go back and forth to each others rooms a few time before we all pass out for the night.

To be continued...

PS- Be sure and check out this great bubble chair site. There is quite a nice bar scene in LA these days. San Francisco should take some lessons!

Posted by rusty at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Republican Response

Pro Bush march!

Posted by rusty at 04:45 PM | Comments (5)

February 13, 2003

Streaming Media patented?

There have been some articles like Online Porn Battles Acacia Over Multimedia Patents lately. Seems that this company called Acacia has gone around and bought some companies which owned patents that they feel covers "streaming media". They're trying to get everyone streaming audio or video to pay up.

An excerpt from the article:

"What we did before we purchased the company (Greenwich) was to spend considerable time and resources evaluating this portfolio as to whether we think these patents are valid and whether they are enforceable," Berman said. "We did several prior art searches... It was important to go to the marketplace knowing what we had was valid."

Yeh, right. We should really blame the patent office for granting such a silly patent: ``A system of distributing video and/or audio information employs digital signal processing to achieve high rates of data compression. The compressed and encoded audio and/or video information is sent over standard telephone, cable or satellite broadcast channels to a receiver specified by a subscriber of the service, preferably in less than real time, for later playback and optional recording on standard audio and/or video tape. ''

Posted by rusty at 06:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What the US needs to hear, but can't

Senator Robert Byrd in a Senate floor speech says, "This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time." But no one wants to hear it. Why is a New Zealand paper the only one I can find reporting on this?

There are some other nice choice bits on Byrd's senate web site.

Posted by rusty at 06:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack