Month: November 2009

Interesting: Is Jay-Z coming out as an atheist?

In his latest video, “Empire State of Mind” at the 3:05 time mark, we hear him say “Jesus can’t save you. Life starts when the church ends.”

I’m not sold on the song yet. But I’m happy to see someone with that kind of renown that Jay-Z has openly dismiss the myth of Jesus Christ. Because it is just that, myth based on prior myths of the Babalonians, et al. All those prior gods had virgin births, rose from the dead, etc. It’s formulaic.

And as far as my tastes in hip-hop, it falls in three camps. I like the strident (E.g. Public Enemy), the goofy (Ludacris, and old schoolers like Slick Rick, and Whodini), and the likes of Q-Tip.

Happy Thanksgiving

So today we spent the holiday with our friends Nick and Beth, and Beth’s brother David as well as our new friend Danielle and her mom.

Yours truly was the whirling dervish of the kitchen today. Even Keyron commented that I’ve gotten very chill in the last few years. Not a lot can bother me. The reasons for this are mainly due to two things. The first is that I’ve prepared so many holiday meals that nothing can shake me. The last, and this is not a necessity but it does enhance the confidence effect, is to keep the alcoholic beverages flowing.

I did the stuffed mushrooms, showed Nick how to thicken a gravy (It’s all about the fat and the flour!) and did a lot of chopping, mushrooms, onions, etc.

I did drink a bit much. it was beer and wine for the day, started a little before noon and didn’t stop until about 9PM. I’ve been flushing out with water since I got home and didn’t suffer the deleterious effects of alcohols propensity to dehydrate. Interestingly in my family alcohol never played a big part in holidays. Holidays were about the food, family and the sugar based deserts!

But candy is dandy but liquor is indeed quicker.

Overall a good holiday. Good conversation all around, much better than the old family affair days.

Tech: Caution on BIOS upgrades and iTunes

So I was running the A02 BIOS on my laptop. I decided to kick it up to the current version, A04. I’m so glad the update process has gotten so damned easy. It used to be you had to download the BIOS patch, burn it to floppy or CD, and then boot from that for it to patch.

Now it just runs as a windows application and tells you to reboot to use the new BIOS.

It solved the disk stutter problems I was having with iTunes sure but when I went to sync my iPod Touch I was told I’d have to re-authorize a bunch of applications. So now I know that Apple uses the BIOS version key to authorize a computer. Grrrr… it reminds me of back in the early 1990’s when I was working at Brown University.

We had a Data General Eclipse MV9500 and we ran the WordPerfect suite which also served as the login front-end for all the terminals (Mostly PacerTerm on Macintosh computers.)

That MV9500, that’s the processor or CPU designator. A decision was made to upgrade to an MV9600U processor. Which of course broke the WordPerfect license we were using because WP decided to authenticate against processor identifier.

Had to scramble a bit to write an unbreakable shell under AOS/VS II or Data General’s answer to DEC’s VMS product at the time. I put together a great little CLI shell that you could NOT escape without logoff.

That’s something I’m also good at, getting systems to work when they break.

Tech: Zynga and Facebook hit with class action suit

Now this is interesting..

Before I say this please put on your rose colored glasses since I’m about to cast a very wide net here.

Most net users, and more to that most point Facebook users aren’t the most net or technically savvy people out there. To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, “There’s one born every minute…”

At a minimum, ignore payment for points on games. Just take the old Japanese approach, play it out over time. How do you think I got two a few hundred billion dollars in game money on Mafia Wars? Just play often enough to gain benefits.

On the other end of the spectrum, aggressively block all ads. I employ a few strategies for this. The more egregious crap (E.g. Zango) gets blocked at the firewall level because it actually installs something on a machine rendering it pretty much useless, while other sites either get a host file entry, or get added to the AdBlock+ add-in for Firefox.

Or if you’re simply that full with cash, send some my way. I might give you something in exchange other than points on a game. That something may be advice, or some other thing.

Politics: The New Republican Platform (And my response!)

Found this over on Joe.My.God.

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

I suppose government adequate to meet the needs of the people and perhaps a lower national debt. But that’s where my similarities with the Republicans end. I want to see taxes back at the levels they were at in the 1950’s. You know, when people making more than $300K a year paid a fairly high bracket, and corporations paid quite a lot more in taxes than the roughly 9% to 15% they pay now.

I’d also like to mention that if we ended the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan we’d save a fucking bundle. Especially with the latter. If you understand anything about the Pashtun tribes, you understand that Afghanistan is essentially undergoing a civil war that has been going on for the better part of the last few centuries.

And Iraq, we need another bully puppet there. Saddam Hussein knew how to keep his party in check. That’s what we need so Shi’a, Sunni and even Kurd can learn how to live with one another again.

Once that’s accomplished lets pay off the national debt, and then with the surpluses available let us re-invest in infrastructure (Rebuilding highways perhaps, with lanes set out for rapid transit systems?) or maybe rebuilding all the schools in the nation, or providing health care to every U.S. citizen, from cradle to grave.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

See the last part of my above answer. I support not just a single payer system, but a nationalized system like they have in the UK. Anything left to a ‘market-based’ approach simply means that the market will charge all that can be borne by the customer and provide as cheap a service as they can in order to maximize profit. Profit in health care should be anathema, particularly the extreme cases of profit over care.

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

Here is what I’d support. I’d support dumping huge sums of money into wind, solar, tidal and whatever alternative energy systems we can come up with. I’d also support the R&D into electric vehicles that have ranges in the 300 mile, with < 15 minute recharge times. It's happening already, but would happen a lot faster if we put a little money into it.

I guess you could almost say I agree with this particular point. Cap and trade is bullshit. Lets move ourselves toward a Type 1 Kardashev society.

(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

This one confuses me a bit because I’m not well versed in labor issues. In essence though the Republican party is pretty much anti-union so I guess I’d have to support card check.

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

This point is purely bovine effluvia. I say if they’re here, working and paying taxes they stay here.

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

I oppose this on so many levels. See the last part of my answer to their first platform plank.

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

I support diplomacy with Iran, and as far as North Korea, we need to put the pressure on China, Japan and South Korea to settle that little cluster fuck.

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

And I support abolishing said act. It is unconstitutional on the very face of it and violates my rights to equal protection under the law.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

Yes, the lives of the vulnerable. Who are they anyway? The way I see it, the very young, the very old and the disabled. I’d extend it to those between very young and very old too.

But do they not realize that health care is already rationed? It’s a default state of the system as it exists even now. As for denial of health care, they really should talk to their buddies in the insurance industry because by far they’ve been the grinchiest of all.

Now the fun part, abortion. I say this, until we get a reasonable sex education program into schools (One that starts around 5th grade, and repeats again in 8th and 10th) we keep access to abortion free, open and legal for all. Otherwise I neither care, nor do I think it is my right to tell a woman if she can or cannot get an abortion. It’s her choice, not mine.

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

And I support the right the arm bears. But seriously, yeah I’m kind of gun nut when it comes to this.

So I do find a small amount of agreement with their 10 planks. But I don’t think I’d ever call myself a Republican.

A funny thought regarding Mags “The Loathsome” Gallagher

We all know Maggie “The Loathsome” Gallagher, or if you don’t just google. She’s the talking head that always talks about that great arc of humanity, male and female and who opposes equal marriage rights at the drop of a set of panties.

This is the same Ms. Gallagher who had a child out of wedlock. But she’s married now. The scuttlebutt is that her husband is Indian (You know, southeast of the -stans notably Pakistan, with Bangladesh to the east.)

With that I had a thought. We all know that Mags is a little on the hefty side. And I thought about the Hindu reverence for a certain animal.

Yeah you guessed it, her husband must revere cows because he married one.

Protest Against Carcieri’s Veto of the Funeral Rights Bill

So this past Tuesday we had a couple of newer faces at the Providence Equality Action Committee meeting. They were people who’d decided that Governor Carcieri’s veto of the Funeral Benefits bill that would cover couples gay or straight was just the straw that broke the camels back.

The vote in the legislature overall was lopsided in favor, 99 to 1 with the 1 being Rep. Arthur Corvese of North Providence.

With widespread notification going out just 2 days before the event we managed to get about 200 people.

The event was spectacular if not somber. Lots of folks dressed in black. Everyone had a candle, and there was even a mock casket with a spray of white roses on top. Once we were all lined up along the brick walkway the pallbearers carried the casket up to the marble steps of the south side of the RI State House and then laid it on a bier with black bunting on it.

Had at least one notable speaker, our favorite Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts who gave a very supportive speech. She did write the leadership in both houses and asked them to do an override vote as soon as they can.

Forgive the darkness. My little Xacti doesn’t do well in light that low.

And some photos:

Gathering at 7:10PM

Casket coming up the columnq

Casket passing by

The Casket and Roses

When I think about it, in the past year I’ve been to so many protests, events, etc. We’re really pushing the whole equality thing hard in RI.