Jun 4 2010

The week for breakdowns?

Apparently, this is it

My system has been subjected to ever-increasing blue screen of death episodes.  Despite our best efforts, we have been unable as yet to isolate and eliminate the cause.  This weekend while we are in Detroit, Darin plans to switch my hard drive to another machine while he attempts to find the problem.

On Wednesday, we were driving home from T0-Shin Do in the midst of a horrendous downpour when suddenly an amber alert lamp lit on the dashboard.  A quick check of the manual revealed this was the VW version of a “do not screw around, contact your repair shop NOW!” light.

On Thursday, the car went in to VW and we were told that the problem was a sensor which was going out.  They ordered a part and it was to be overnighted to them.  Meanwhile, they set us up with a rental vehicle at their expense …  The rental turned out to be a full size, dual-cab Dodge Ram pickup.  This behemoth is only slightly shorter in height than a school bus (I know, because at one point we parked right next to one) and although it was a nice vehicle, I wasn’t overly impressed — the biggest flaw was the floor in the damn thing was at waist height when I was standing beside it and there were no running boards.  The other thing that sucked like a Hoover™ was fuel consumption.  According to the real-time display, we were averaging 17.6 miles per gallon.  Whoo hoo?

Today, VW called and let us know that although the part had arrived as promised, it had not arrived unscathed.  A new one would have to be ordered, they wouldn’t be able to get it till Monday, and they would extend our rental.  Well, this was all fine and dandy, but I did not want to drive that tank to Detroit — I especially didn’t want to have to pay for the fuel to drive it to Detroit.   So, they traded us for a “smaller, more fuel-efficient” vehicle … this turned out to be a pretty much stripped-down Chrysler Town & Country mini-van.  Swell.  Once again, I’m not impressed — although it was a lot bigger, the pickup was also a lot nicer than the van.  Hopefully, though, we’ll at least get better than 17½ miles to the gallon!

Which segues right into … Tomorrow, it’s off to Detroit with Missy and I.  We’ll be leaving about 6:00 a.m.  She will be dancing in *seven* dances — this Feis offers an Open Jig — and if she should wind up getting a first in her set dance, she’ll be dancing an eighth dance for a perpetual trophy.

No new alterations , but I did tinker with the dress a bit this week — affixed some snaps to stop the belt from creeping up while she’s dancing, affixed two gems that had become loose last week in Akron, added an additional piece of velcro to the sash — and it’s ready to go.  Yes, I remembered pictures!  They’re in the gallery as we speak.

In other news, Missy completed her school year this week!

Despite all the little snags and hiccups — and a blog stalker meltdown notwithstanding — it’s all good.  More is right than wrong and I’m not going to let it get to me.  I remain confident that ultimately balance will be restored and things will right themselves.

May 26 2010

A Plethora …

Everything you need to know about some things …

American Idol season 9 — Paula Abdul left, her spot was taken by Ellen Degeneres whose qualifications for judging were debatable at best.  She’s quickly become known for stupid commentary (“you’re like a banana”) mixed in with some surprisingly accurate observations from time to time.  Simon Cowell announced this would be his final season.  No major scandals erupted with the Top 24 (a few mediocre ones, but really, it was a ho-hum group this year).  The final performance show was May 25 (Tuesday) and the final two are Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox.   Crystal (a single mom from Ohio) has been a strong, and steady contender all season long.  Lee (a former paint salesman from Illinois) has been the one who exhibited the most growth over the course of the season and though he is not a “showman” his voice is quite good.  Throughout the season, Crystal has had many “moments” while Lee has only had a couple (his biggest and best was last week’s performance of Hallelujah, which was chosen for him by Simon).  My prediction for this season’s idol:  Crystal Bowersox.  Honestly, though, I’ll be happy no matter which one wins, because I’ve liked them both from the start.  ;-)


How dare you! — When they were voting on which things to include and strike from the latest edition of textbooks to be used by Texas students (which influences what will be printed in *all* textbooks across the US), state Board of Education officials had a heated debate about whether or not to include Barack Obama’s middle name in the information being added about him.

Lawrence Allen, a black former high school principal from Houston offered a motion to enter President Barack Obama’s name in a section of the curriculum that recognized significant dates in U.S. History.

David Bradley, a white businessman from Beaumont, motioned that the president’s legal name should be used, Barack Hussein Obama. “I think we should give him the full honor and privilege of his full name.”

“I am getting pretty fed up with this,” said Democrat Mary Helen Berlanger. “You don’t have to be derogatory. We don’t always put in Jefferson in William Jefferson Clinton.”

“This is our first black president,” said board member Mavis Knight, who is black. “You are making it sound humiliating.”

“I ask the member to withdraw the motion and move forward in a dignified manner,” said Democrat Rick Agusto.

Bradley did, but said under his breath, he did so, “to put an end to the whining.”

Knight shot back, “I don’t consider it whining.”

His middle name is humiliating?  Mentioning his middle name is derogatory?  Other things being excluded from the books include mention of Joseph Smith and Nathan Hale in elementary school history books — the latter because reading about his hanging “upsets” children.

Biden’s Latest Faux Pas — Brussels, Belgium is more deserving of the title “Capital of the Free World” than is Washington, DC.

[Biden] suggested that Washington, D.C., his home, is undeserving of that title — notwithstanding its wealth of global organizations and the countless international summits that take place there.

“As you probably know, some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, D.C. as the ‘capital of the free world,’” Biden said. “But it seems to me that in this great city, which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title.”

Biden’s Latest Faux Pas, Part Deux — At that same May 6th assembly referenced just above, our esteemed Veep also remarked that he was “particularly honored” to address the body, “as a lawmaker for more than 36 years in our parliament.”

Oh, those crazy Democrats, Part I — Remember Rod Blagojevich?  Rod thought there was nothing wrong with selling off Barack Obama’s (then-newly-vacated) senate seat to the highest bidder.  He was impeached in January of 2009 and is scheduled to go to trial June 3.

Oh, those crazy Democrats, Part II — In February, Joe Sestak alleged that the White House last summer offered him a high-ranking position in the administration if he would sit out the Pennsylvania primary against Arlen Specter — Specter was formerly a Republican before became a Democrat last year in the belief that his re-election would be secure if he jumped ship.   Sestak refused to step aside, and handily won the primary against Specter.  Now Sestak is facing Republican Pat Toomey in the election this November and is being asked to explain in detail about this job offer and the conditions for accepting it.  An investigation is being sought and the White House is promising to comment “soon.”

Well, if the Democrats can do it, why can’t I? — Sarah Ferguson, the Dutchess of York, was caught on (hidden) camera offering to sell a “wealthy businessman” (played by a reporter) access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, for the paltry sum of £500,000 (about $725,000). Fergie is also on camera receiving $40,000 as a down payment from the businessman (reporter) and making arrangements for the balance to be wired to a bank account of her choosing later on but prior to the meeting.  Sarah has since issued an apology and stated emphatically that the Duke knew nothing at all of her activities; Buckingham Palace has also released a statement insisting the Duke was unaware and above reproach.

“I don’t know why you’d care, but just so you know …” — Victoria Beckham says her marriage is legitimate and not just a sham put on to preserve the family image for their children or a business arrangement to protect their business empire.

“I don’t know why you’d want to, but you can’t” — take your iPad into Yankee Stadium, that is.  Nor can you take a laptop computer.  You know, though, conversely, why can’t you take your iPad or your laptop if you’re paying the price of the ticket and not disturbing or disrupting anyone?  I’d rather see someone on their laptop (which I can ignore) than be forced to listen to some dumbass on their cell phone.

Her voice is toxic and so’s her jewelry — WalMart has pulled Miley Cyrus’ line of jewelry out of their stores because it was found to have dangerously high levels of cadmium.  Cadmium is toxic if ingested (imagine your little girl putting the edge of her bracelet in her mouth to fasten the clasp, or idly putting her pendant in her mouth, for instance) and the levels in the jewelry were high enough to be potentially lethal.

May 23 2010

If God used text messages …

What if God texted the Ten Commandments to Moses?

Found a slightly abbreviated version of this in one of the joke columns of the latest Reader’s Digest, which inspired me to go find the full version at mcsweeneys.net


1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

3. no omg’s

4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool

6. dnt kill ppl

7. :-X only w/ m8

8. dnt steal

9. dnt lie re: bf

10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?

Apr 26 2010

A trio of must shares

You should enjoy these!

A FOX News article tells how 7,500 people sold their souls because they didn’t read the fine print.

A computer game retailer revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of online shoppers, thanks to a clause in the terms and conditions agreed to by online shoppers.

The retailer, British firm GameStation, added the “immortal soul clause” to the contract signed before making any online purchases earlier this month. It states that customers grant the company the right to claim their soul.

“By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions.”

GameStation’s form also points out that “we reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.”

The terms of service were updated on April Fool’s Day as a gag, but the retailer did so to make a very real point: No one reads the online terms and conditions of shopping, and companies are free to insert whatever language they want into the documents. [...]

The company noted that it would not be enforcing the ownership rights, and planned to e-mail customers nullifying any claim on their soul.

A surprising (at least to me) 88% of shoppers did not check the box which would have negated the soul-selling whilst keeping the transaction. That’s scary. I’m guess I’m anal or something because I actually DO read all the fine print. I almost got burned one time on eBay when I didn’t read all the terms and conditions of the sale which stated that if the winning bid was under a certain figure the postage and handling for the $10 item was $99. Since then, I go looking for crap in the fine print before I virtually sign on the dotted line.

From Hit & Run comes this notice of a challenge: the First Annual Everybody Draw Mohammed day, to be specific. Michael writes:

Via Dan Savage’s blog at The Stranger, some clever chappie (I don’t know who) has declared May 20, 2010 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” in support of Matt Stone and Trey Parker and in opposition to religious thuggery.  [...]

I will be employing my tremendous skill as an illustrator, of course, and expect that my colleagues will do the same. If they refuse, they will be declared weak-kneed, namby-pamby, quisling infidels and will be shamed on this blog (Though such idle threats rarely work these days; perhaps I could threaten them with a painful death, which seems to do the trick). If readers would like to show their solidarity, please email your Mohammed masterpieces to me here: [obscured by me - go to his site to get the address, I don't want to contribute any fodder for spambots! I already admitted I'm paranoid about crap like this.] The best ones will be published on Hit & Run, which, along with the concomitant death threat, is reward enough.

I have to confess, I’m kind of surprised by Comedy Central pulling the episode. I didn’t realize they were that wimpy. You can’t honestly tell me there haven’t been dozens upon dozens of more offensive South Park episodes — why weren’t they pulled? I’ll tell you why: because Censorship = BAD. Shame on Comedy Central for caving.

Finally, you’ll get a kick out of this one … From the BBC News, an interesting little typo occurred on one page of a cookbook. Seems that although almost every recipe in the cookbook called for “salt and freshly ground black pepper,” one recipe had a tiny faux pas …

An Australian publisher has had to pulp and reprint a cookbook after one recipe listed “salt and freshly ground black people” instead of black pepper.

Penguin Group Australia had to reprint 7,000 copies of Pasta Bible last week, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

The reprint cost A$20,000 ($18,000; £12,000), but stock in bookshops will not be recalled as it is “extremely hard” to do so, Penguin said. [...]

The publisher professed amazement as to why anybody would be offended by the “silly mistake” but has assured that anyone who complains will be offered a replacement of the corrected edition. Has this dude read a newspaper lately?  Does he not realize how tight people’s knickers are wadded these days?  Personally, mind you, I’d like to get hold of one of the misprints!

Feb 24 2010

You have *got* to go read this

Remember the school spying on their students with the school issued laptops?

I wrote about it the other day in this post: Reasonable Expectations.

Since I posted about it, the feces has hit the air circulating device. The school continues to insist they did nothing wrong. The software manufacturer of the remote viewing program used in the case is claiming that the software should never have been used for such a purpose but some computer security experts are arguing that their product is specifically designed to bypass Apple’s built-in protection features to prevent remote access of the webcam. The FBI is investigating. A federal judge has ordered them to disable the software and not use it again until the court order is lifted. Some parents are insisting that the school would not do such a terrible thing — I’ve even seen comments made by some parents saying that the boy who started this mess (seems to me it was the assistant principal who started it, but whatever) is a known troublemaker and his family are trash. (I’ve also seen ten times as many comments defending the family saying that’s a crock.)

I’ve also since learned that the laptops were not only issued to the students but the students were *required* to use them. Not only that, but they were forbidden to disable any of the software or hardware on the laptop (including the webcams) under penalty of expulsion from school and not only *that,* but they were forbidden to use their own computers, they *had* to use the school issued laptops. It just keeps getting worse and worse the more I read about it.

Well, my new hero “Stryde” has done some serious digging. I was going to quote him, but really it deserves a read. He and his buddy Aaron Rhodes did a shitload of research; Stryde.hax has the facts, links, copies and everything else to back up what he says and he deserves kudos for a job well done getting it all together. Go read it and even though it’s long, be sure to read all the updates on the page, there’s a wealth of new information included in them.

Feb 20 2010

Reasonable Expectations

At what point do we draw the line?

Cheryl sent this one along yesterday.  I sat down at the computer today to verify and … well … you call it:

Let’s say I give you a computer to use at home.  Let’s say that on that computer is a webcam.  Now, let’s say that without your knowledge and without even warning you that I have the ability to do so, I remote-activate the webcam and begin spying on what you are doing.  I can not only monitor what you are doing on that computer — that is, see what programs you’re running, what web pages you’re surfing, and so on — but I can also see what is going on in the room where the computer is situated.  You’re changing clothes while the computer sits idle on your desk?  Cool, I’m watching! You and your spouse are making love across the room?  Hot damn, I have a front row seat, where’s the popcorn? So, tell me, do you think that’s legal?  Do you think if you went to court about it, the Judge would say I didn’t have the right to spy on you without your knowledge and consent even though I gave you the computer?

Let’s muddy the waters a bit, now.

Take the foregoing scenario and say that I am your employer.  Does that make a difference?  Do you think maybe I have the right — as your employer — to keep tabs on what you’re doing online when you’re not in the office since I own the computer?  Do I further have the right to spy on you at any time I choose with that webcam?

Let’s switch it up another notch.

Same scenario as before, only now, you’re a minor and I’m the assistant principal of your school.  The school system provided you the computer — for the stated purpose of insuring that all students in the district have 24/7 access to school-based resources — and without letting you know that I had the ability to do so, I’m activating the webcam on various students’ computers at random.  So one night I’m looking in and hear you mouthing off to your Mom and Dad.  The next day, I haul your butt into the office at school and ream you for your behavior at home.  Do you think I was within my rights to do that?   Tell me, are you thinking “damn, Kate, that’s pretty outrageous.  No way do you have that right.”

See, if I’m your employer, or your school, I think I would be able to make a case for monitoring what you access on your computer, particularly if you are warned up front that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy for what you store on the hard drive.  But I can’t imagine that any court in the land is going to say I have the right to switch on that webcam and spy on you — especially without having ever bothered to mention to you that I might — or even could — do such a thing.  Sounds like Big Brother gone to the extreme, doesn’t it?

I’m pretty certain such actions would be a violation of just about everything from the Fourth Amendment  to wiretapping, electronic communications and computer fraud laws.  Not to mention pornography — and child porn — laws if I ever manage to catch you naked, or see your parents (or for that matter, you) engaged in sexual activity.  If the government itself doesn’t have the right to spy on you — The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, 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. — your school district or employer damned sure doesn’t have the right.  Am I right?

Well, just keep on reading.

Continue reading

Feb 15 2010

Ladies & Gentlemen, may I present …

… some new links around here …

A few organizations I have either joined, or signed up with of late.  Take a look and see if you might be interested in joining the effort.

Flip This House

a non-partisan campaign to re-instill real values in our national politics. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans…. it’s about grassroots, tea-party, freedom-loving Americans uniting behind a common goal of turning the current statist political machine on its head.  Simply put, it’s time to Flip This House!  Our values are simple: Liberty and Limited Government. We propose a clear slate of positions that directly challenge Big Government Statism. And we will stand with anyone and everyone who will stand with us in the great struggle against the Ascendency of the State.

Grassfire Nation

Grassfire Nation is YOU – a million-strong network of grassroots conservatives who are fighting to defend our liberty and freedom. Grassfire Nation is also a place for you to access reliable information on the latest issues impacting grassroots conservatives, and vital ways for you to take action on those issues through citizen petitions and other means designed to expand and increase your personal impact.


GovTrack.us is a tool by Civic Impulse, LLC to help the public research and track the activities in the U.S. Congress, promoting and innovating government transparency and civic education through novel uses of technology. You’ll find here the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records for the Senate and House of Representatives, information on Members of Congress, district maps, as well as congressional committees and the Congressional Record.

resistnet – Patriotic Resistance

ResistNet is a place where citizens can resist — in a peaceful, patriotic way — the efforts to move our nation away from our heritage of individual liberties toward “brave new world” of collectivism. ResistNet is designed to give citizens a new level of networking resources to organize the Patriotic Resistance.

Sep 21 2009

Missy found this one

It’s really cute

And as it turns out, there’s a whole bunch of them, done by lots of different people. Here’s the one Missy found first …

Sep 9 2009

This is great!

Spread the word!

This is a fabulous idea for showing just how ridiculously long this thing is.

At least one person thinks a 1017 page healthcare bill is too big and plans to “Tweet” the entire house bill to bring awareness to that fact.

The American people deserve healthcare reform that is at the very least pragmatic and effective. A 1017 page bill too complex for the creators to explain it, even if they read it, is not what we need. 1017 pages sounds like a ton of unnecessary binding regulation, loopholes, payoffs and future breeding grounds for corruption, it could be done more effectively.

“I’ve already broken the 1017 page bill down to almost nine-thousand 140 character Twitter “tweets” and will be tweeting until they’ve all been posted. If I can tweet it, our representatives should be able to read it and explain it to us.”, says Johnson. “Is that too much to ask?”

The tweeting begins August 17, 2009 and Mark will be tweeting as much as possible, night and day till it is done. Please show your support by following at Tweet the Bill.

Show him some love, people — nine-thousand messages … damn.