Being sick

The worst part about being in bed sick is not the painful sore throat, the scratchy eyes, or the runny nose. It’s all the tissues and bottles of medicine that accumulate on and around the bed.

End of the phone company? I don’t think so

In Business 2.0, Erick Schonfeld opines that Apple’s iChat AV will mean the end for phone companies:

The folks who should be the most worried about this development are the phone companies. While video IM works only on broadband connections, voice IM is possible on a dial-up modem. As more people adopt broadband and the voice and video quality improves, instant messaging could become an increasingly appealing alternative. If I can talk to my friends and family for free using a souped-up computer, why would I ever pick up the phone?

There’s only one problem with his logic – your dial-up modem is connecting via a phone line, which you’re still paying for. It doesn’t cost any less because you’re using it for data – so, you’re still picking up the phone. In fact, you’re playing for both the phone line and the internet service, so you’re paying more for the chat than if you just picked up the phone and called. The phone companies are in no danger at all.

Katharine Hepburn

It’s so depressing when you have spent the day not being in touch with the news, only to find out in the evening that something like this has happened.
What a grand and classy dame she was. I truly feel that now the golden age of Hollywood has finally come to an end. And I’m afraid that we will never see its like again.

Take that, telemarketers

From the Post:

Fed-up consumers found a new outlet for expressing their disgust with telemarketers yesterday by signing up in droves to put more than 735,000 home, fax and cell phone numbers on a new national do-not-call list.

At one point, 108 people per second were registering their numbers either by phone or online. The sudden rush caught staff members off-guard at the Federal Trade Commission, which maintains the list. By midmorning, many people could not connect to the www.donotcall.gov Web site, forcing workers to add more computer equipment to handle the crush.

“We all believed that we were totally on top of things and volume couldn’t possibly exceed what we were planning for,” said FTC spokeswoman Cathy MacFarlane.

But even the FTC, which received 64,000 public comments that mostly supported the creation of a do-not-call list, underestimated the feelings of rancor and powerlessness that telemarketers provoke in the public.
It seems like only weeks ago that the telemarketing lobby was insisting that most people “appreciate” the calls. If this trend of angry consumers continues, it may well be cheaper and more useful to eliminate the “do not call” lists and instead outlaw all unsolicited calls and e-mails.

Telemarketers say they will fight the list by challenging it on the grounds that it abridges their right to free speech. This is ridiculous – when was the last time that people were allowed to march into your home and exercise their free speech rights without being asked in? How is is free speech to make bells ring in people’s homes without their permission?

As if to signal the beginning of the end, I’ve had 5 mysterious “out of area” phone calls today. One was a recorded message telling me that I had entered a contest and had won and that I should call immediately. (Recorded messages of this kind are illegal.) I can’t wait for them to stop.

[Update: in two days, the total number of people who signed on to the list was 11.4 MILLION. That’s an awful lot of annoyed people. The telemarketer manta has been shot to hell. Get these assholes off the planet, please.]

From the CBN Forecast Center

Expect numerous storms, tornadoes, and floods this year because God is unhappy with the Middle East “Roadmap”, says the Christian Broadcasting Network.

On April 30, 2003, America was positioned as the catalyst to jump-start the so-called “solution” to the Middle East crisis. As U.S.-backed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was sworn in, the “Road Map” peace plan was set in motion.

The very next day began the worst month of tornadoes in American history, more than 500 in a single month. Normally, 1,000 tornadoes hit the United States each year, but this year, in just eight days in May, 375 twisters ripped across the heartland of America.

May 9th, 2003, President Bush addressed students at the University of South Carolina. Bush called on the Palestinians to embrace the road to peace, and see the flag of Palestine raised over a free nation.

Hours later, tornadoes returned and Oklahoma City again became the bulls-eye for deadly twisters, reducing what was left of businesses and homes to splinters and bricks. The tornadoes of May devastated the Midwest with the third worst property damage in American history. Since then, the Road Map has endured a rocky road to June, coinciding with what may be America’s most rain-drenched spring in history.

With yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, I can only imagine that we’ll shortly have volcanoes sprouting in the middle of the beltway, F5 tornadoes on the Mall, and plagues of locusts in Justice Kennedy’s backyard. The Earth will split and Satan’s minions (also known as “liberals”) will pour forth…

At least the righteous will be able to survive this cataclysm by snacking on his special age-defying protein pancakes.

Vast Reelection Conspiracy

Now I get it – Bush deliberately cuts taxes on the rich, knowing this will do nothing to stimulate the economy. The wealthy have extra income, and the middle class and poor get poorer. Thus, they have no extra cash to spread around, the wealthy all make huge donations to the Republican party. The Republicans achieve record fund-raising goals and buy themselves into office to cement their fascist power for decades to come.
Brilliant!

When opinion becomes law

The fallout will be coming for some time after yesterday’s Court decision, and I’m sure that I’ll be manic depressive for a while. While I feel happy about this affirmation of liberty, I also get worked up about the intolerant rhetoric spewing from the Right. Such as:

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R) expressed disappointment with the ruling, which he said invalidates a state statute banning oral and anal sex between consenting gay and heterosexual couples. “As one who believes that the courts are to interpret and not create law, I disagree with the ruling and am always disappointed when a court undermines Virginia’s right to pass legislation that reflects the views and values of our citizens,” he said in a statement.

I’ve been a citizen of Virginia for 36 years. That legislation does not reflect my views or those of anyone I know. What he means to say is …”Virginia’s right to pass legislation that reflects the views and values of our extremist citizens and imposes those views on all of Virginia’s citizens.”

Scalia’s dissent made the case that the majority had, indeed, “dismantle[d] the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions,” as well as the enforcement of laws against bestiality, adultery and adult incest.

I don’t see the connection except in the case of adultery. The case involved two consenting adults. Bestialty and incest do not meet this test. Adultery, frankly, should not be illegal in my opinion — yes, it’s obviously morally wrong and I’m against it, but the government should not be policing the private lives of its citizens.
Again, this linking of homosexuality to bestiality, pedophilia, incest, and other “perversions” is increasingly ridiculous. The only commonality there is that they all make sexually repressed right-wingers nervous. Being homosexual, amusingly enough, makes you statistically less likely to engage in any of those immoral and harmful practices. Their practitioners are almost always heterosexual. And besides, I expect better arguments from a Supreme Court Justice. Who does he think he is, Rick Santorum?

Scalia charged that the majority’s allegiance to “the law profession’s anti-anti-homosexual culture” had blinded it to what he said was the fact that “many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Scalia did not himself endorse such views, but rather said that, if the majority objects to homosexuality on moral grounds and wants to outlaw it, that is a manifestation of democracy, not discrimination.
Duh. DEMOCRACY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. The majority cannot rule in such matters. And they certainly cannot “outlaw” homosexuality, and thus, a class of people! My sexuality was not given to me by the state nor the people – I was born with it and therefore, as the right would say, it was given to me by God.
Now, read that quote again with one small change and you’ll understand:
“many Americans do not want Jewish persons as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Aha! Suddenly you understand, right?
I at first put “black persons” as an example, but I realized that the right wingers would say, “well, that is a genetic, in-born thing.” But being Jewish isn’t – while you may be born into a Jewish family, what makes you Jewish is your beliefs. So, here we have a person who has “made a choice” to live a “lifestyle” – using the arguments of the anti-gay right. So, does that quote now seem reasonable? Have I made my point, or just muddied it?

Give the government your phone number

The National Do Not Call Registry is now open – in theory, it should prevent telemarketers from calling you or they’ll face stiff fines.
Yeah, I believe that. But I’m signing up anyway.

Blame me - I’m Gay

Cripes, I am *so* tired of hearing from the intolerant, ultra-right fundamentalists screaming about their belief that homosexuality is responsible for the decline of the family. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, they are up in arms claiming that the fabric of society is about to unravel.
How in the hell can gay persons cause marriages to fail – they can’t marry! How can gay persons be responsible for teenage pregnancy? For abortion? Who has fewer unwanted pregnancies than homosexuals?
Listen – the so-called gay agenda, including the potential for same-sex marriage – all leads toward strengthening families and marriage. Don’t these nuts understand that it’s better for society for two people in love to be committed to each other in marriage than to be forever barred from it? That it would create stable households and reduce the horrifying promiscuity they’re always going on about? That if you stop persecuting and marginalizing a segment of society that they will become a strengthening part of it?
Doesn’t it seem to you that they use homosexuality as a scapegoat for the real reasons for the decline of American family and morals – things like oppressive declarations from fundamentalists; infidelity in marriage (don’t think I don’t also blame Clinton for this); alcohol and drugs; pandering to the lowest common denominator in the media (hello, Jerry Springer and Joe Millionaire); little attention to education; blah blah blah. Nah, none of that is important. It’s the homosexuals who are to blame.
If my neighbor gets a divorce, I’m sure it’s because of my insidious homo-influence next door.

In defense of Macintosh

Jann sends this obnoxious opinion article–which I won’t reproduce in quantity here; but you can be sure I’ll post my response. ::grin::

No wonder people don’t buy Apple Macs
Why people don’t switch and how to entice them?

It reminds me of the nasty articles written by people like Ann Coulter – right from the first sentence it has such a mean tone that you automatically are put on the defensive and it doesn’t matter what the article says. This guy is a very poor writer – he comes across as someone who ignores facts and twists the truth to fit his agenda. It’s like reading an article by a right-wing nut. And he needs some grammar lessons.

Demonstrating a P4 3 GHz running a Radeon 9800 Pro as pulling only 275 fps in Quake 3 also didn’t help matters, since recent P4 reviews show the CPU easily capable of exceeding 500 fps in 640x480x16.

I think this whole benchmarking thing is getting ridiculous. He complains about frame rates in Quake – well, it doesn’t matter if the P4 can do 275fps or 500fps, because the human eye can’t distinguish anything more than, say, 80fps. So, what does it matter?

For the DIY / enthusiast user that depends on benchmarks to offer at least some idea of representative performance, Apple’s numbers are unacceptable, and the fact that the company twists them to such a degree makes people wonder just how badly Macintosh systems do perform in neutral tests.

“Apple’s numbers are unacceptable.” To whom? Except for incredibly intensive operations like rendering a dozen layers of video, my Mac is completely acceptable to me. If I had a faster Windows machine, I’d waste all that extra speed on trying to figure out how to get my work done and through interruptions from crashes.

The zealots who defend the platform as God’s gift to the computing world don’t do much to help on this score either.

And from the pot calling the kettle black department: Mac fans are “zealots?” Gee, that’s like the fundamentalist right screaming about a “homosexual agenda” while they themselves push a far more dangerous agenda. People who write things like this are invariably hypocrites.

Given that Apple only holds 1.9% of the current worldwide market, the vast majority of potential Mac users have probably never used one extensively (if at all) and may not know someone that owns one, or, even if they know someone who owns one, there’s no guarantee that the person owns a new Mac running OSX 10.2 or later on a fast enough machine to really show the OS off.

Talk about massaging numbers: he says that Mac is down to 1.9% market share. He cheated us out of .1%. smile Again, a misleading number, because that figure refers to SALES, not installed base. Macs have a MUCH longer useful life than PCs, so there are plenty in use. (And that’s a pretty good run-on sentence there.)

Apple’s return policy isn’t exactly comforting either-you have the right to a return if unsatisfied with the product, but only if the product is unopened in the box. Hard to tell if you’re unsatisfied with the product if it’s still in the box, isn’t it?

I don’t believe that is true. Nonetheless, he talks about Apple policies such as right of return, but doesn’t say a word about the same policies from PC manufacturers, thus giving the impression that PC purchases can be returned for a refund after you’ve opened it, set it up, played with it for a month, and poured Pepsi on the keyboard.

There is, however, another potential option that might boost sales significantly. I’m not claiming that the following idea is fool-proof or ironclad, but I think its an avenue Apple might do well to consider-namely, offering first-time customers a free 30-day test- drive on a Macintosh system.

This guy is proud of himself for coming up with a great new way to entice people – a 30 day test drive.
Well, hate to disappoint him, but Apple invented and ran that program that a decade ago. (A friend of mine still displays the bumper sticker promoting it.) Once again, a PC “zealot” thinks he thought up something new years after Apple did it first. A final example of a clueless pundit who didn’t do any research before writing a misleading screed. The whole thing reads like one of those hateful and poorly-researched articles in The Weekly Standard. Why has the computer community become so polarized? What in the hell does it matter so much? Use whatever computer you like!

Coming soon: X-ray specs

The federal government is considering the use of – get this – a backscattered X-ray machine which literally sees through your clothes. The picture in this one is a bit… creepy.

The US government is considering using X-ray vision at airport security checkpoints to give a naked image of passengers.

The magnetometers now in use at airports cannot detect plastic weapons or substances used in explosives.

Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration’s security laboratory, demonstrated the system which bounces X-rays off her skin.

To the eye, she is dressed in a skirt and blazer. On the monitor, she is naked – except for a gun and a bomb that she hid under her outfit.

“It does basically make you look fat and naked – but you see all this stuff,” she said.
Everytime something like this comes out, we ask “Aren’t we going to far for security?” Evidently, no one is answering “Yes.”

Under the radar: no more overtime

Thanks to The Go Fish for this: evidently there is a plan afoot by the Bushies to re-write the rules governing overtime pay.

More than 8 million workers in the United States will be ineligible for overtime pay under a plan proposed recently by the Bush administration, a research group said Thursday.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal Washington think tank, examined a proposal by the Labor Department to change the criteria for paying overtime and found that it would cost 2.5 million salaried employees and 5.5 million hourly employees their right to overtime pay.

The proposed changes, which were first introduced in March, will be implemented by the Labor Department after a “public comment” period, which expires on Monday.

The EPI questioned the appropriateness of the Labor Department’s implementing such sweeping proposals without Congressional approval.
Where in the hell did this come from? Why didn’t we hear about this before now?
I’ll willing to bet that the unions will be screaming bloody murder tomorrow. Hey, all you hourly wage employees who voted for this evil man – are you happy now?