It’s called a calculator

I know that a lot of people, from bloggers to tech columnists, have debunked the Napster ad — you know, the one where they say that filling an iPod with 10,000 songs will cost $10,000; whereas Napster is unlimited for $15. By now, everyone knows that you’re only renting the Napster music, and if you don’t pay the $15 one month, it all goes away… and the stuff on your iPod is yours. Of course, most people don’t fill their iPod with music they purchased from iTunes, they fill it with CDs they already have.
The thing that they have missed in this commercial is the outright lie about the cost of music on an iPod. 10,000 songs from the iTunes music store, assuming you bought each one separately and not as an album (which is cheaper), the total cost would be $9,900.
Sorry. I’m just in a pedantic mood.

I guess they were AOL inches

Boy, what a bust this snow has become. A few hours ago, the weathermen were calling for 10 inches; the reporters were all out in the field waiting for huge traffic accidents, and Metro was talking about closing above-ground stations.
Here it is, 1pm, and there isn’t even an inch on the ground. Yeah, it’s falling steadily, and it’s kind of pretty, but nothing much is sticking even though it’s below freezing. The roads are completely clear, and I feel rather sheepish about having stayed home.
Another annoyance: because the company that picks up our trash is also the company that clears the snow, all our Monday morning trash is still sitting outside waiting to be picked up. And predictably, some of the bags have been kicked around and split open. It looks like I’m living in a trailer park.

Update, 3pm: it’s still snowing like crazy out there, steady and heavy… but inexplicably, at least by a layman like me, it’s not really accumulating. It’s 34 degrees, the ground and roads have obviously retained heat from sunny days, and the grass is just whitening. By all rights, if it had been sticking, we’d have had at least 6 inches by now.
Meanwhile, in another example of over-estimation, the National Park Service camera over by the river claims that the current visual range is 79 miles… despite all evidence to the contrary.


A capital offense

Fark links to a story in Rolling Stone which points out the ridiculous extremes that the “War on Indecency” has come to:

A review of fines levied by other federal agencies suggests that the government may be taking swear words a bit too seriously. If the bill passes the Senate, Bono saying “f**king brilliant” on the air would carry the exact same penalty as illegally testing pesticides on human subjects. And for the price of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors. (Actually, you might be able to afford four “nuke malfunctions”: The biggest fine levied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year was only $60,000.)

Just a note: I usually “censor” words like f*ck on this blog, not out of a sense of outrage over indecency, but because it’s not really necessary to illustrate the point… and while I use the word constantly, I don’t usually write it because I want to find better ways to f*cking express myself.

Evil genius at work?

Here I sit, waiting for the huge snowfall, and… nothing. It’s going to be tough to justify my decision to work from home at this point.
So I took a look at the radar, and marvelled at the strange sight: there’s precipitation all around us, but there is an odd hole in the weather just over Washington and the Maryland suburbs — like some weather modification system has been turned on.


All tuned in

You know, it’s amazing to me — all these years I didn’t think I had any “gaydar,” but it turns out that those twinges and crushes were right on the money. The hunky John Barrowman, who I had a thing for back in the early 90s — and who is set to appear in the new Dr. Who series — evidently came out of the closet a few months ago. Woo hoo!!
After all, that means that I now have a chance with him, right? ::grin::

Might I recommend Botox™?

Note to all you celebs:
Since the Oscars are simply a festival of fashion and “looking good” — at least, that’s what the host says — may I suggest that you pay a little more attention to your makeup?
This is the era of high definition television, and that leathery, wrinkled skin is brought right into the living room like looking through a window.

Love, Gene

p.s. I’m not naming any names, Mrs. Beatty. However, if you and the others are embracing honesty and decided to look like the actual, real people that you are, I retract my complaint and applaud this new trend. Who knew? Stars look like everyone else!
p.p.s. Is it a violation of my beliefs, both in the arena of politics and inanity, to say that Billy Bush — despite his shallow and annoying personality — is really cute? Ah, them Bush boys — what a dichotomy.
p.p.p.s. I’m with Chris Rock on one thing: who cares who designed the celebrity’s outfit? I understand it’s all payola, but how many of us could afford to go out and buy that suit/dress?
p.p.p.p.s. I know I wasn’t going to watch the Oscars, but I’m a whore for set design and had to see what they did this year. My god, I am such a slut for a stage set that’s composed almost entirely of plasma monitors with a big old projection screen under the floor. Damn. Plus, I’m wondering about the software setup they’re using to display the images on the great big series of plasma screens up in the rigging. I want one. Badly.
p.p.p.p.p.s. This new thing where they line up the nominees on stage (for the “less important” awards, at least) is offputting and makes it seem like a high school awards ceremony. At the very least, it’s a bit humiliating for the people standing there. What is this, Miss America?

They always inflate their inches

There I was, minding my own business, when the shrill and shocking alert from my weather radio blared, making me jump. This gadget only ever goes off when there’s weather like a tornado or severe thunderstorm; today it was heralding the coming of the snow.
I can’t remember ever hearing this warning before: “HEAVY SNOW WARNING.”
We could get anywhere from 1″ to 18″. Now that’s what I call a CYA forecast.
Anyway, I just had a bizarre feeling last week that we would get hit by one big storm before spring, and said as much to people… they didn’t believe me. Now, this one I’m not so sure about, I don’t have a feeling of certainty about it, but the forecasters are certainly having a lot of fun (as they usually do when the world is about to come to an end). Nonetheless, I brought work home with me on Friday ‘cos I felt some twinge.
Whee! Snow!!
I’m gonna appreciate California so much in two weeks.

[As always, the Backyard Weather cam is on, for you folks living in the Bahamas and other tropical climes who want to see just what amount of snow causes the capital of the most powerful nation on Earth to shut down completely. I’m recording a timelapse of the “heavy snow event” as well, just for amusement. If it’s at all interesting, I’ll post it later.]

Maybe he’ll be self-adhesive

Where are all those politicians who embraced putting Ronald Reagan on every school, municipal building, airport, and bus station across the country? Is it no longer a quick route to voter popularity? Has gay-bashing become a more solid vote-getter?
Don’t they know that the postal service regulations say that U.S. presidents may be commemorated on a stamp after the first birth anniversary following their death?
Reagan’s birthday was February 6. When do we get to lick the back of his head and stick it on our bills?

[Wow! How did I miss the gala debut of this stamp on February 9? Thank goodness they did it just days after his birthday, I was worried there for a moment. There are so few things you can comfortably predict these days, and the continued deification of Ronald Reagan has always been a constant.]

Not so sweet

I loathe artificial sweeteners. First off, I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t make me sick in some way. Saccharine tastes horrible and gives me a headache. And possibly cancer. Nutrasweet gives me horrible migraines within minutes. And Splenda? Well, I bought into the hype about it being “made from sugar” despite my logical mind, which told me that a sugar substitute can’t be made from sugar.
Now, the sugar industry is fighting back.

In an effort to convince consumers that “Splenda is made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar” and to encourage them to “Think sugar, say Splenda”, the giant drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson is running a multi-million dollar advertising campaign encouraging the misperception that their artificial sweetener is equivalent to all-natural sugar. Splenda is not sugar and is not natural.

Splenda’s advertisements that read “The Dance of the Splenda Plum Fairy,” “Splenda and Spice and Everything Nice,” and “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Splenda is Sweet and So Are You” have been characterized by one marketing ethics reporter as nothing but “sleight-of-hand marketing.” Despite all the slick Madison Avenue advertising, the fact remains that Splenda is actually a chemical compound that contains chlorine. The more chlorine atoms, the sweeter the taste. Consumers deserve to know the truth about the food products they are purchasing for themselves and their families.

I often wonder about Nutrasweet, aka aspartame — it seems that the FDA rejected it at first, but then after a bit of manipulation by the CEO of drug company Searle (who’s name you may recognize: Donald Rumsfeld), the FDA changed their mind. Now there are many physicians who claim that aspartame is not only bad for you, but is causing an epidemic because of its toxic effects: blindness, seizures, brain tumors, and other serious neurological problems. And yet, people suck down those Nutrasweet-laden drinks like crazy, thus assuring that it will never go off the market.

There are so many people on both sides of this argument, but it seems to me that the ones decrying the “aspartame scare tactics” are those who are either anonymous or those who have an agenda to support aspartame. I just stay out of it and say pass the sugar.

Jef Raskin

Jef Raskin, who is generally credited as the creator of the Macintosh computer, died yesterday. He was 61. Much of his work has been on the creation of “humane interfaces,” which points out a major difference between Macintosh and other computers: Raskin understood that the way people interact with the computer is more important than the computer itself, that any machine should be designed with that interaction in mind first.
It’s a testament to this concept that so many Mac users are vociferous in defense of their computer choice — and like me, to the extent that they won’t take a job if they can’t use a Mac.

A commonwealth of scofflaws

Spurred on by the story of a couple of guys who are visiting the US to break some of our more… well, stupid laws, I looked up the laws in Virginia. You know, my home state, where lawmakers recently tried to outlaw wearing low-riding pants? Well, here are some of the laws that did make it to the books here, laws that we quite probably all in violation of:

  • Not only is it illegal to have sex with the lights on, one may not have sex in any position other than missionary.
  • If one is not married, it is illegal for him to have sexual relations.
  • Citizens must honk their horn while passing other cars.
  • Children are not to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.
  • In the city of Dayton, a person of color may not be outside or within the city limits after 7 pm.
  • In Norfolk, women must wear a corsette after sundown and be in the company of male chaperone.
  • In Stafford County, it is legal for a man to beat his wife on the courthouse steps so long as it is before 8:00 pm.

Scarier still are some Federal laws:

  • A US citizen can take possession of any foreign, uninhabited island, as long as it contains bird droppings
  • To be a dominatrix is illegal.

Now, that last one is very interesting. It’s an abstraction based on the text of the law, which is:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113C > Sec. 2340A.

Sec. 2340A. – Torture

(a) Offense. – Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) Jurisdiction. – There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if –

(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or

(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender

Well. Wouldn’t Donald Rumsfeld be interested in reading that specific section of the US Code? Hmm?

They all start out cute

Another found item, in the bottom of my filing cabinet: a picture of my dog Diego at about 2 months old.