Wednesday, March 31, 2004

You are Killing Me

They're still working on DR-DOS. 8.0 was just released.

Happiness as Science

Life really is, according to this guy, what you make it.

It's a long article and worth the read. One line synopsis: author/psychologist says that happiness is not equal to pleasure; we live (relative to other generations) charmed lives and it is a failure of something that we self-report increasing unhappiness in spite of that; critics claim he is a dangerous lunatic.

But this is something I've been cogitating on for a while now. I realized/observed that happiness doesn't come from any outside place, thing or person. One specific example was the seemingly endless search for the right bar to go to Friday night. The endless arguments weighing each individual's perceptions against their preference against their mood. Everyone wants the same thing, to drink beer and talk to our friends and maybe meet new people. Any environment that impedes that is bad, anything extra is a bonus. But trading necessity/preference for bonus is a bad value, happiness wise. "This car has no wheels!" "But it's got Bluetooth!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Best Quote of the Week

"Why do you want to go in there? They're anti-feminist and they've got a bad disc jockey"

The AG of Minnesota's daughters in a little trouble at Crobar Chicago.

Crobar is where you go clubbing in Chicago if you are too cool for Excaliber (or can't get in), but not cool enough to know about anything genuinely underground/genuine. Also if you are looking to score overpriced club drugs. It isn't a tourist trap per-se, but it's on the razor's edge of being such. It is in a 'gritty' Chicago neighborhood, and I'm sure that's a plus. In fact, I will proclaim that it is a local tourist trap. The kids from Schaumburg and Naperville, and the colleges go there.

At least, in my experience.

Post apocalypse

See this post over on Carl's place. Powerful indeed.

I do a lot of driving around for work, and I sometimes take back roads. On one such trip, I found myself in the shadow of the Braidwood reactor. [please excuse the use of the greenpeace picture. in these terror minded times, it's somehow not surprising that they're the only ones willing to publish photos of nuclear reactors. they have maps, too! of course, now I'm drawing attention to it, so I'm a jerk too I guess.] Anyway, it is a fully functioning modern reactor, and even still the area around it is bleak looking. Even the architecture is ugly. I suppose there's NIMBY and then there's NIMBY.

Also, what happened at Three Mile Island.

Do we distrust nuclear power, or do we really distrust our fellow humans not to screw up? A common theme, and I've fallen for it too, is that when choosing a US President we ultimately go for the guy we trust the most with The Button. It comes up, more or less, every election. Similarly, the fear of flying. The conversation goes:

Guy1: Why are you afraid of flying? You've more statistical chance of getting killed on the drive to the airport!
Guy2: Because I'm not in control.
Guy1: You fly a 737-400 better than the pilot?
Guy2: [sputter] You know what I mean!

No, I don't. I have plenty of irrational fears. But they're irrational and I don't indulge them.

I've hijacked my own soapbox! All I set out to do was send a shout-out to Carl-O, and now I'm screaming about the weak minded. Which makes me a little weak minded too, doesn't it?

To summarize. Wasn't there a time when those men who harnessed powerful forces of nature were considered heroes? We looked in awe, not mistrust, of those braver than us?

ADMIN:

Added the sitemeter thing. How do they make money?

Monday, March 29, 2004

Terrible

Sometimes protest is necessary. But this is ridiculous. We're trying to have a society here. Good for Rove for yelling at the leaders, although all that does is make him even more 'evil' in the eyes of those who dislike him.

To Quote a Friend

Mmmmm.....slothful.

Didn't get a lick of it done last night. Here's to Monday.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Random

I just need an excuse to use this joke:

"Hey ladies, click here to see my 8" crank!"

Lazy Sunday

It's a beautiful day here in the City of Big Shoulders, and I'm trying to get some crap done around the hovel here. I've got (or had, it just ended) the Cubs game on. Nothing calms me and centers me like watching a Cubs day game on a nice Saturday or Sunday. It reminds me, positively, of my youth. Those Saturdays begun watching Bugs Bunny and the Three Stooges with my dad, until the TV blows a tube and we have to go to Osco and play with the giant vacuum tube tester machine.

Anyway, I have a lot to do, organizationally. My taxes are sitting on the kitchen table, waiting (for a month and a half) for me to, and I quote myself, "look them over one last time before sending them in." I have to do my bills and some other bookkeeping. I have to organize the crap on my computer in preparation for an enema (reformat/reinstall). My "wires" have gotten out of control as well. Gotta take care of that.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

I-L-L! I-N-I!

OK, so they lost. But into the sweet 16, no? Went to the bar with LC and KW, all three bedecked in orange, to watch the slaughter. I arrived, as planned, when there was about 10 minutes left in the game. Basketball, to me, goes far too long. But it was good to see the inside of the Georgia Dome again, where I once slept through the Peach Bowl.

For the record: when I feel like pretending I graduated from college, it's the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign. Muck Fishigan! I actually attended UIC (University of Illinois - Chicago) for a semester, and I think I still owe them money. Which is nice.

Irony

Bald Eagles nesting in Chicago, once again for the very first time.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, in the bleakest area of the city. In my opinion, anyway. You may have to zoom out a couple of clicks.

The Problem Solvers

Ugh. I present the following:

  • If these guys would put half the effort to getting laid (or downloading porn) as they put toward this enterprise, and the other half to solving problems, they'd be more satisifed and the world would be a better place.
  • That said, genius.

  • Friday, March 26, 2004

    Shocking

    This article provided me with two items of interest to the Chicagoan:

  • The venerable Cook County Cheetahs are now the Windy City Thunderbolts?

  • Who doesn't want a Honorable Chester A. Stranczek bobblehead?

    And generally:
  • Bobblehead technicians?

  • Thursday, March 25, 2004

    Conspiracy!

    This article reminds me of a conspiracy theory I heard once. That the Coke/New Coke fiasco was done on purpose to mask the change from a sugar base to a high-fructose corn syrup one, because sugar is price controlled and high fructose corn syrup isn't(*). When the public freaked (as the conspiracy claims was expected), the original Coca-Cola [how did I get that wrong?] was reintroduced- but it had high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, and nobody noticed. I have no idea if this is true, but that's what I heard. But something changed (if only perception), since you don't hear much about a cola war these days.

    And I love the fat(**) people stock footage. News people, sadistic bastards that some of them are, love finding the fattest, most horribly dressed slobs out there and shooting footage of them from the neck down. It must really suck to be sitting at home watching the news, and see yourself in your horrible sweatpants and plaid shirt on TV advertising a sweeps piece on fad diets. All you did was accidentally go out for a paper one day, and suddenly your beergut is selling news. I'm not implying anything bad here. If you want to be fat, enjoy yourself. But some people are slobs, and some people have bad fashion sense, and some people are fat. And some are all three.

    (*) As an Illinoisan, I should keep my foul mouth shut. But being corn based, the syrup is most likely highly subsidized through the payoffs to the farmers. Which is a form of price control, I guess.

    (**) I use 'fat' not to be disrespectful, but because I've heard that to call someone 'overweight' is to imply there is something wrong with them, and to assume that they don't want to weigh that much. 'Fat' is an adjective, 'overweight' is a judgment. I choose to believe that, since there are less letters to type.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    SPAM

    OK, so I set up a new email address to accept emails from this blogging thing. The only place it exists is in the setup with blogger/blogspot/haloscan, and in any comments made on blogs in the last week or so.

    I'm already getting spam on it.

    I recently theorized that some spamers have begun dictionary spamming, randomly generating names and numbers and just blasting out. I've looked at the source of some spams, and sometimes I've seen them where sent to, say, 6 recipients. There's me, and five other similar addresses. For example:

    johndoe@
    johndof@
    johndog@
    johndoh@
    johndoi@
    johndoj@

    But then I wonder too is it's coming from bots parsing the comments, or even blogger/blogspot/haloscan selling them.

    Thoughts??

    Religion!

    A couple of religious issues are before the Supreme Court that could have some profound consequences.

    The pledge of allegiance case is finally before the SC, they will decide whether the court in California that decided a while ago that the phrase "under God" was an improper endorsement of religion. I don't know anyone besides The Big Guy whose name is God. And while God has quite a monopoly, what with the Jews, Christians and Muslims all trying to chat Him up at the same time, there are some people who still believe that separation of church and state is an important thing. This is different from mere tradition (like the various oaths and blessings uttered by individuals), this is a law proclaiming students must acknowledge God.

    And a Jewish tax accountant is suing the IRS to allow his deduction for religious schooling. Why? Because the IRS allows the Scientologists to deduct the costs of their educational training. And nobody else. Formed by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer of dubious background, Scientology has educational requirements and charges adherents for the educational services and materials. By secret agreement, the IRS allows Scientologists and nobody else to deduct religious expenses. SECRET AGREEMENT?!!? It should go without saying, but that's bullshit. I'm not even sure any religious "donations" should be deductible, but this is blatantly unfair. And just a little creepy. It doesn't say how he found out about the secret, I'm betting a client accidentally let it slip.

    Here's to hoping our Supreme Court makes some good decisions.

    EDIT: The spell checker wants to change Scientologist into scintillated. Interesting.

    Ihre Papieren, gefallen!

    Another reply to SR.

    Did I get into this in your comments last time? I forget- I know I tried, and think I gave up. My intent isn't to be disagreeable, except with the jerk in this case.

    This is not a good test case:
  • First, he sounds like a real prick. Nothing illegal about that, but I'm just sayin'.
  • Second, the fifth amendment says nothing about right to silence. The closest thing to that it says is "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself". Since there's nothing illegal about existing (swarthyness notwithstanding), being forced to identify oneself puts the person in no criminal jeopardy and thus isn't a problem for the fifth amendment.
  • Third, the fourth amendment. "and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" There was a legitimate police call made by a concerned citizen about an alleged crime and describing the participants. These two jokers fit the description, along with the location, and were questioned about the situation and by all accounts WERE the people who the report was made about. Sounds reasonable to me.
  • This specific case doesn't offend me in any way. Certainly not like the perfectly legal concept of roadside "safety inspections". These, which only seem to be increasing in popularity thanks to the tea totalers, seem to be a far more effective and efficient tool of discrimination and oppression than any variety of the stop-and-frisk. In the case at hand, it's one man arguing with another. In the "safety check", it's you against an entire roadblock of officers, their vehicles and weapons, emcamped with the sole purpose of investigating you with no probable cause except your choice to take a certain street.

  • The Piling On Begins

    Thanks to SR for reminding me about Veterans' Barbershop on 111th street. It was my barbershop also, for a time. The "young man" ("Frank"?) dated my aunt briefly (careful...), and thus was my barber. I seem to remember him "winning the lottery" at one point and blowing it on a giant TV? My memory plays tricks with me. I wonder what happened to that guy, he was a good barber...

    But that Veterans' place was quite an experience. There was a beauty shop next door, I seem to remember, so a Man could get a Proper Haircut in Peace.

    For some reason, bringing the boys out for haircuts were rarely my father's job. I'm not sure why that is. So after the free haircuts from Frank dried up, my brothers and I were subjected to cuts from various franchise-style places. (While my father went to Al-Kut's) The positive with those places is that, if you got lucky, your zaftig stylist would brush against you the duration of the haircut. And you looked pretty good walking out of the place. A week and a half later, of course, you needed another haircut, but that's the trade off.

    Once I got a little more on my own, I began going over to this crazy place at 111th and Western: South Side Barbershop (or was it Southwest Barbershop?). But it was so much more than that. Antique dealer, political headquarters (*), probable pawnshop/fence and suspected bookie joint. If you needed a year-specific license plate for your classic car, he could get it for you. The old man running the place was quite a character, he rarely cut anyone's hair. Had a classic telephone answer style- he began saying hello the instant his hand touched the receiver, and by the time he was finished with his hello, the receiver was at his ear ready to listen to you. He was at least 80. About 3 years ago he retired, and I followed the guy who had become my barber, Charlie, to Barber Shop Express up Western at 109th. Charlie is damn near 80 himself, and a sweet old man. At the old place, he had a clipping of a newspaper from Cleveland I think, where his nephew had been elected the first "negro" mayor. Yet another brush with history. He cuts my hair the way he wants to, almost no matter what I tell him, and I can deal with that. My hair, enigma that it is, does what it wants to whatever I tell it, so I'm just generally happier to let them fight it out.

    He's been leaving "combover strands" lately, and that might be the last straw. But, as SR notes, the new barber decision is a difficult one to make. I count my blessings that the shop I'm at doesn't even stock product, Charlie leaves me be while he's cutting, I am never thrust a petition to sign for some damn South Side 'concern', and cuts are $13. Those are comforts that I value highly, possibly more than a good haircut.


    (*) Ray Wardingly was/is a professional clown, and is a perennial Chicago Republican candidate. His headquarters was always that barbershop. He was the Republican candidate for mayor in the 1995 election; he lost to Daley and Roland Burris (who ran as an independant that year). Normally he runs for the 1st Congressional Seat (currently Bobby Rush?). I remember him being the guy who hung around the barbershop and got sandwiches for the other guys. Stained, ill-fitting satin jacket, spittle at the mouth, etc. I think he was a puppet.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2004

    Always Low Prices.

    Wal-Mart is now offering a music downloading service, 88ยข a song. http://musicdownloads.walmart.com

    Of course, the catch is that all the songs are cheap Chinese knock-offs.




    I'll be here all the week.

    Hilarious!

    If it's spring, that means Abercrombie & Fitch has enraged someone with a t-shirt. An entire state this time.


    I found this story on Drudge Report this morning. Expect it to be the kicker story on tomorrow's news broadcasts, or maybe Thursday's.

    Respectfully, I submit one for Illinois- "We call our hillbillies rednecks!"

    Monday, March 22, 2004

    Important announcement

    In a groundbreaking innovation, I present the following: Kitty blogging.

    "Slow down, feller," you might say, "40% of all internet publishing is kitty blogging. You're a stupid idiot."

    And right you'd be. But the innovation is... I don't have a cat. I'm making it up. Pure bullshit.

    On with the show:

    Mr. Pussy did the cutest thing today! First, I have to tell you about the new litterbox my sister bought me! It's so awesome! She got it for me because when she was over at the house last week to help me- oh my god, did I tell you about that? I sprained my ankle on some ice last week during that freak storm we had! The weatherman didn't even predict it, because I watched the weather on TWO CHANNELS that morning because we were going to bring the car in to have the hole in the roof repaired and I wanted to make sure it wasn't going to rain! Well, it didn't! It poured! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Anywhoo, she got me the litterbox because Mr. Pussy got wet in the storm and tore the old one to shreds! Shreds! The new one has a little kitty with a stormcloud over him and a frowny face and he's holding a cartoon sign that says "I have to poop!" LOLOLOLOLLL!


    Prepare for other innovations in kitty blogging, to be unveiled soon.

    Phone Magic

    I've recently been trying to come up with a way to unify my communications spending. I like all my stuff, I just feel I pay too much for it. Things like having voice mail at home and on the cell phone. Not only is it duplicated effort, I also (theoretically) pay twice for something that is merely a convenience.

    Then CR from work mentioned this to me. vonage.com You get a box that you plug into your broadband internet connection (another expensive convenience), and then you plug your regular telephones into it and tell SBC to pound footballs. Voice over IP. He has it and he likes it. I'm going to give it a try. There are some interesting forwarding options in there, and seemingly you get unlimited, coast-to-coast use for $35 a month.

    I will report back if I try it.

    HTML Magic

    Kudos to the good folks at blogger.com for the fancy, yet easy to use, editing box I'm using right now. The buttons are nice. I'd like to see something a little more WYSIWYG; I really like the interface that Outlook Express email client uses. Similar (but simpler) to the FrontPage, where there are three windows: edit, code and preview.

    Anyway, I like the links on my websites to default to a new window, rather than staying in the same window and replacing the current contents. That works great for some old-fashioned websurfing, following the current wherever it takes you. You're on a trip. But for a site like this, where (sometimes) you're reading content (ha!) on the main page, and then you maybe have to read the story it refers to and then you come back and leave snarky comments. I like to leave the one page open and open the link in a new window, so I can refer back and forth, etc. To do it, put this tag right at the top of the page, below the title tag. [base target="new"] Use angle brackets rather than square brackets.

    Sunday, March 21, 2004

    Talk dirty to me

    Comments are up and running. Also something called trackback. Perhaps it will make me more popular?

    Edit: Here is what they say trackback is. Hardly complicated at all, really. Groan...

    "Meow, meow meow meow!"
    --The Book of Fuzzy Kitties

    My Brain Hurts

    I have a headache and don't feel like writing.

    Except to say that I watched NOW with Bill Moyers earlier today. Being an odd numbered month, it was pledge drive time. So, he had Hal Holbrook on there talking about his one man Mark Twain show. Reminded me to read more Twain. Holbrook, or "Wild Bill McKenzie" as he'll best be remembered, was cantankerous like an 80 year old ought to be. Possibly more- Moyers correctly noticed that it became difficult to tell where Holbrook ended and Twain began. Seemed appropriate in these crazy times to be re-examining Twain. I certainly heard the word 'nigger' more times than I have in a long time.

    Saturday, March 20, 2004

    Dammit.

    So now I'm copying D? Christ. I was surfing over at SR's place there, and checked out the links side to steal ideas for things to link to. And the lonely 'D' spoke out to me. "megd"? Who's Meg and why is she so angry?

    Let me state at the outset that I dislike the "using initials" thing, but I understand and respect its purpose. I will add comments soon, I don't feel like it right now. Doesn't really make a difference because this is anonymous right now. Wow. It just happened right there: I can't write unless I have a specific recipient in mind.

    Plagiarize!

    Stealing a concept from "Murmurings" (to the right there -->), and as an icebreaker for my three friends and the thousands of imaginary people who I'm sure are reading this now (and whom I picture naked to steel my nerve), the "highlights from this week's email" post. Also could be a partial nod to Letterman's "Unfair Edit".

    there's some showbiz genius in there.

    Do you know about this? Welcome to hell.

    "Look, I've enraged you, it's art."

    It will be greasy and ugly, and quite hot.

    Nice stationary, Sen. McCarthy.

    Like a nasty pimento.

    Let's go to the Illinois Derby?

    "Vegas just has everything that Bionic Marv is looking for."

    I'm surprised the owls didn't work out.

    The man has the flattest flat-top I've ever seen.

    The really bad ones make death look like sunshine.

    I am constantly haunted by ridiculous hair.


    That was slightly more than one week's worth. Nonetheless.

    Hmmm, I write with a different tone when I do this. More conversational, annoying.

    Friday, March 19, 2004

    Training wheels are off!

    All righty. Got the things pretty well worked out. Am I learning CSS?

    Edit: Yes I am. Or at least putting codes in spots where they do things.

    Strike up the band

    After a couple months of screaming "Get a Blog!!!" at abusers of my email inbox, I've decided to follow my own advice. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. In ridiculous fashion:

    1) I do not believe anybody cares about what I have to say. This is more of a repository for the daily 30-odd emails I send to random people. More precicely, that I randomly send to specific people.

    2) Actually, that's all. I have no purpose here. In fact, none of us do and we'd all do well to accept that.

    OK, 3) I hope to never, ever self censor. Except this once as example. "If I want to say f*ck, sh!t, c#nt or g@ddamn, I'll damn well spell it properly." Say what you mean, mean what you say, I always imply.

    Edits:

    4) Gotta fix the formatting.

    5) I reserve the right to edit posts randomly, possibly even subversively. If you read it once, don't be surprised if it's the last time.