Happy Birthday John Adams

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a Congress."

-John Adams, Second President of the United States


We Can't Make You Leave

Here's a bit of humor about immigration, if the roles were reversed.


Open Letter from Howard Dean

This is the funniest shit I've seen all day.


Savant Idiot

Steve Jobs is an interesting combination of unrivaled genius and malingering incompetent. The problem with him is there is no way of telling what you’re going to get from moment to moment. Having recently acquired my non-iPod, I was intrigued when I ran across this article. The interview is classic Jobs: smart guy who is sometimes just hilariously wrong.

I have two parts that I love in the interview, both concerned with how wrong he can be. The first is the interoperability issue. Everyone knows you’re stuck with iTunes, Steve, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think it sucks. People learn to live with the failings of their technology. However, if they are offered a better alternative, they’ll take it. Sitting around and saying “they haven’t asked for it” is a fast track to obsolescence. You’d think Apple might have learned something by now, but they keep hiring Jobs back, so I guess not.

The other knee-slapping howler was the following passage:

I was very lucky to grow up in a time when music really mattered. It wasn't just something in the background; it really mattered to a generation of kids growing up. It really changed the world. I think that music faded in importance for a while, and the iPod has helped to bring music back into people's lives in a really meaningful way.

Jobs sounds just like every other boomer right about now. “Our music was important and changed the world! You kids these days listen to crap!” Umm, I guess that whole thing with portable music swept right by old Steve, huh? An iPod is, despite the fancy technology, nothing more than an updated version of a Walkman. But somehow, because we stamped the Apple logo on it, it’s magical and will change the world! Umm, I’ll bet not. It sure changed Apple’s bottom line, but that isn’t really the world, now is it? Unless your name is Jobs, I s’pose, in which case it just might be the whole world to you. Once again, the previous history of the world is irrelevant until Jobs has blessed it with his mighty intellect and logo. What crap, and nothing less than I have come to expect from Jobs

Let’s get one thing straight: I have no issues with the iPod other than the usual Mac problems. By that, I mean the cult that grows up around it and the way you’re locked into the platform. I went with FLAC for my compression algorithm of choice, which means my device needs to support FLAC without the extra work of doing something like loading Linux onto my device and rewriting the firmware. I don’t need to develop a life-long relationship with Apple and iTunes. J and I have roughly 700 CDs and continue to buy new ones. (YPS Manor is, if you haven’t noticed, a media intensive household.) I don’t need the DRM and other bullshit that comes with iTunes or Windows Media. I want to be able to rip my CDs to hard drive and use them around the house. I’m not trading with people and I’m not running a file sharing server. I paid for my media, now I want my fair use. Apple is not particularly interested in that approach, so I’m not particularly interested in any Apple product.

However, I will admit freely that Apple’s industrial design and user interface people are among the best in the business. Jobs may or may not be a great designer, I really don’t know. He does, however, understand the process and can recognize a quality result. You can do worse as a designer than to look at Apple’s stuff and figure out what they do right.


Petty Annoyances

So in a stunning display of technical incompetence, there is a person out there in magical intarweb land who has the same first initial and last name as I do. I could be clever and call him T2 or use a lower-case t or perhaps TT to refer to him. Instead, to avoid confusion, we’ll refer to him as Tony. I chose that because that’s his name and I have no great desire to protect his anonymity.

I don’t know much about Tony. I know his name, his address, his taste in bad television, and the inescapable conclusion that he’s a dumbass. I know all of these things because Tony signed up for NetFlix and gave them the wrong email address. He gave them mine. I’ve had the email address going on 5 years now. If you give it out, I can only assume you don’t know your email address. In my world, this makes you a moron. Potential hate bomb? Uhh, never mind that last bit.

Anyhow, Tony is renting such classics of television as Kung-Fu. WTFever, grasshopper. Watch your crap television in peace, just quit stinking up my inbox with emails about it. I’d send NetFlix a complaint, but alas, NetFlix is blocked at my current location. So as an immediate reaction, I’m writing a blog post about some moron. I’ll deal with NetFlix later. In the meantime, I'd like to make this public service announcement:

Hey, you. Yes, you, Tony from Oak Park, Illinois. You’re an idiot. Stay off the internet until you learn to use it correctly. And watch some better television, too, you tasteless git.

UPDATE: NetFlix gives you absolutely no way to contact them if you don't have a log-in. That's a serious flaw when some ignut signs up your email address by mistake. Lucky for me, I have a log-in so I can bitch out customer service for the fabulousness of their interface.

Nork Nukes

So the Norks went and blew something up, which they claim is a nuclear device of some kind. I am reasonably confident that we can tell if said device was really a nuke. If not, more bluster from the crazy man in Pyongyang. If so, well, what did you expect? The technology to build a simple fission device is not that damned complicated. It’s 50 year old technology available to anyone with access to a decent university research library. There are a few quirks in dealing with your materials, but an organization with the resources of a government should be able to dig through the unclassified literature and figure it out.

Given that nobody really did anything concrete to stop the Norks from doing this, why is everybody acting surprised? All anybody did was stern finger-wagging and speaking in a serious tone of voice about how upset we would all be if they did this. Some of the more feckless countries didn’t even use the serious tone of voice. “Oh, bad, unspecified consequences await if you defy the world consensus on this issue.” The Norks, quite rightly, listened to that and gave the big “WTFever!” in response. So now they have a nuke and no apparent delivery system. What next?

We could bomb the crap out of them. If we do, they hit Seoul with everything they can. The South Koreans are understandably not keen on this approach. Effectively, Seoul is a hostage for the free world’s lack of activity. I have no idea what the Norks would do if China started lobbing missiles. Probably crater Seoul anyway, just for the hell of it. I doubt the South Koreans are going to attack the North. I don’t think Japan has the capability, even if they had the political will. I bet if we offered Putin enough cash, a stray missile from Mother Russia might find its way down there. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

I really don’t have a clue what to do in this situation. My gut instinct says find and destroy their nuclear facilities. Of course, I am a comfortable 7,050 miles from where the artillery shells are gonna land. This, while an appropriate distance to be from exploding ordnance, colors my perception. I’m not one of the 8 million people who will have to watch a city burn down around them. There are no easy answers and I’m glad I don’t have to make the call. Rest assured, whatever decision is made, a vast collection of people will immediately be on hand to pronounce, at length, why the decision was the wrong one. Expect much finger pointing and recriminations from the usual suspects.

Update: Yes, we're all going to get together in our World Debate and Dictator Appreciation Society and call for sanctions. The UN will call for sanctions! My pet fish will fart! Both will be equally as effective in changing the course of action of the Norks.