Archive for April 2003

personal responsibility

It’s all a matter of personal responsibility. I was watching a talk show on women using guns. The Joe Walsh show, I think. The guests and discussion went well. As they all sparred, it became obvious that the argument against legally having personal guns was that people can’t be trusted to be responsible. The pro- argument was mostly that the world is a dangerous place so we have to defend ourselves….. against those people that don’t use guns responsibly. The topic came up about children shooting each other in America. They didn’t talk directly about it but, by their nature, children’s level of responsibility generally isn’t high enough to allow them to have guns. For a few minutes, this felt like a closed issue in my mind… Adults can have guns because they’re responsible, children can’t. And then, after all of this reasonably intelligent debate, the anti-gun woman said (in her heated, angry, black sista, head-bobbin’, Jerry Springer way). “If I had a gun and I was angry at you, I might shoot you!”

Wow, she shouldn’t have a gun. Ever. Her whole gun control stance suddenly boiled down to the fact that she has impulse control issues and assumes (maybe rightly, maybe not) that lots of other people have these same issues. She wants the government to protect her from herself. She refuses (or is perhaps unable) to take personal responsibility for her being.

Maybe I should carry a gun to protect myself from people like her.

Update

Garry, the guy that prompted that $3k bet showed his true colors when I tried upping the bet. Of course, he’s a kook. It turns out that one core aspect of his theory can be boiled down to, “As long as you drive your vehicle downhill, your engine can be greater than 100% efficient.” Well yea…… but then you’re stuck at the bottom of a hill. Why did I even put energy into having a discussion with him? A lot of other people had similar discussions with him, ending with Subject: lines like “Earth calling Garry . . . Re: Overunity, Back EMF, and Garry Stanley” dropping out several days after I did. To look at the bright side, my bullshit detector started beeping before anyone else’s on the list. You can find the discussion on the power-assist list, starting around message 10,651.

Trav mentioned The Personal Identity Game in his journal. It happily reminded me of college. What with my affinity for D&D’s psionics and such, it’s no surprise that I survived with my wily psychological reductionism.

I recently finished listening to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I think I’d enjoy writing a doctoral thesis on this work. This is an important book. If I ever get around to it, I -will- write something about this on my Media page.

I’ve been flying the Zagi. I’ve been crashing the Zagi. Oo baby have I been crashing the Zagi. I already started oogling a more powerful motor. But to do it right is to get a $180 brushless motor and controller setup. Jeesh, I can get a whole other plane for that. And I don’t WANT a whole other plane. I just want to fly! I think I’ll just learn how to fly it as it is. Heck, with the dramatic crashes I’ve been having (some due to not having enough power.. hint hint. get the brushless motor!) I don’t know how long the plane will actually survive anyway. I still haven’t found my digital camera charger so no pictures yet.. It’s possible that Julia hid it but it’s been like 3 months so it’s time to buy a new charger.

Flying this thing is frenetic and fun. But I wish it were more stable. It’s got a huge wing, no weight, and only barely enough power so it tends to flitter about uncontrollably. I’d love to give the controls to a more experienced flying-wing pilot and have them tell me what keeps going wrong. But I haven’t found anyone at the club with such experience. So I’m going to teach myself to fly.

I’m 1/2 glad that the plane is so rugged and crashworthy. But at the same time, as Bob at the club put it, something like, “The more crashworthy a plane is, the less air-worthy it is.” He’s got a point.

No, I like crashing. It offers catharsis at this point in my life.

I’m subbing tomorrow: high school biology. Wish me luck.

perpetual motion machine discussion

Last night I got involved in this perpetual motion machine discussion on power-assist@yahoogroups. I offered up a wager of $3000 to anyone that could show me an “overunity” device. It’s fun putting up money like this. I hope someone takes me up on the wager!

Stealing Madonna’s American Life

I was watching/listening to MTV and saw a couple ads for Madonna’s American Life CD. They said that the whole disc was available on MTV.com. So I went there and sure enough, it’s all there. I thought to myself how I’d like to hear the whole CD without having to click on each track… and how I’d like to listen to it upstairs, not next to my computer, so I went to Kazaa and fetched one copy of each song of the album. I found that most of the tracks I fetched had been planted by the record company. One track was mislabeled (it just happened to be the title track, American Life), a couple tracks had a 5 second loop of American Life over and over, and a couple tracks were…. well they certainly weren’t what I was looking for. It was 5 minutes of dead air preceded by Madonna saying just one thing at the very beginning. She says “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”. So I did what anyone else would do in my situation. Alt-Tab to Kazaa. Click Search. Click the first song in the list. Drag the cursor to the bottom of the list. Shift, Click. I’ll have 200 album tracks in an hour or so. I’ll tell you shortly how many tracks are bogus. The thing that confuses me about the record company’s effort is that if I could just stream (and capture) the whole album from MTV.com, why are they bothering? The tracks on MTV have promos in it… IE Madonna breaking in saying, “Hi, this is Madonna. I hope you’re enjoying my new album, American Life”. So, are there non-promo interlaced cuts out there? Eh, whatever. The battle involving record companies, artists, and peer-to-peer file sharing is fraught with crappiness. I of course focus most of my ire on the record company monopoly. But not to worry, it’s obvious that the internet is tearing down their foundation, a monopoly on radio broadcast station playlists. Artists will continue to make money performing live while record companies will fall into the hole they crawled out of.

As a side note, I heard recently (and this was confirmed from a couple angles) about how the business of artists suing record companies is really hopping. The companies have a habit of (surprise surprise) violating contracts by underpaying their artists, even when the artist does well for them. Of course the majority of (starving) artists don’t have the money and wherewithal to take the company to court, so they just suck it up and go back to their day job. That’s the thing that pisses me off the most the situation: repeated institutionalized, unrepentant, unprosecuted fraud.

7pm Ok, it’s a couple hours later. I think I’ve got most of the tracks. Oo, that was so hard (not). I’m digging the sounds. Another trick from the record company is some sort of Kazaa hack. Many of the downloads start and then the bandwidth is reduced to almost nil. The idea is that my PC is just sitting around waiting for the download forever. So I upped the number of download sessions from 4 to 10. All of these little tricks are so…… is “juvenile” the word? But then, I -am- stealing music…

I was listening to the tracks on MTV.com with the promos stuck in… Madonna came on over her song and asked me “what the fu-[bleep] do you think you’re doing?” What’s with this? MTV asked me to listen to this song and streamed it to me, and Madonna is swearing at me for my trouble. Maybe it was an editing mistake; they got a whole bunch of blurbs from Madonna during the session and just dropped them all onto the MTV streaming songs, forgetting what was actually in the blurb. Or maybe not.

8:20pm OK, it’s another hour later and I’m sifting through my tracks. I find myself mad at Madonna.. I’ve had to delete about 100 tracks that are either just 5 second loops or “What the fuck” tracks. Of course I got all the tracks I wanted and way more. I just pointed Winamp at my download directory… 700+ tracks of my favs downloaded in the last week. Play away.

Stuff

I’m volunteering to help the Panther Valley Property Owners Association with their web site and communications in general. Should be fun.

You should try TVTonic, it’s pretty good. TVTonic is the product I worked on at my last computer job. Think of it as the next step after Tivo… First there was the TV, then VCR, then Tivo, then TVTonic. It downloads large (10-100 megabyte) video files into it’s cache on spec, so when you turn it on (it runs in Internet Explorer), it always has something ready for you. When you merge TV and computers, you can do a lot more than just watch, but this is a good super-short description. You need high speed internet, Windows and 5-10 gig free to use it. They’ve got a 2 month free trial and they won’t spam you or anything dumb.

Something is messed up that when I have to pay $270 to have someone else do my taxes (right before my eyes) and I think I’m getting a bargain. In the short-term sense, yes it -is- a bargain. My H & R Block lady found me several deductions and loopholes in a 1 1/2 hr sitting that I couldn’t have found in 10 hours of research (and then another 5 hours of filling out forms). But why are taxes so hard to do? The states and feds obviously do our taxes for us… that’s how they can send us a refund check for $41.16 instead of the expected $32.14. So if they do our taxes for us, why do I have to pay someone almost $300 to do them, and someone else at the IRS, NJ Dept of Revenue, and NY Dept of Revenue… My taxes get done twice! That’s almost $600 in work being done, for no tangible benefit!

And this is only slightly related but I have to say that when George Dubbya sent every American taxpayer a check for $300 two years ago, I got so friggin angry at him! He was obviously trying to buy us with our own money. Why doesn’t he just double our taxes and then give us a 50% discount? I would like to know exactly how much it cost the government to mail out those 150 million checks. Those costs should have come out of Dubbya’s own pocket.

Penn and Teller

After more than 10 years of exposure to them, I feel that I’ve almost groked in fullness how phenomenal Penn and Teller are. Of course the doc at the other end of that link is just one tiny piece of the puzzle, but well representational.

Oh and someone remind me to mail my taxes off by tomorrow, ok?

I heard about yet another dry promise that the federal government will put some control on spam. So I wrote to my senators and reps about it again. S 563, The Computer Owners’ Bill of Rights has pretty strong language against spam. And of course I encourage you to write a letter to your senators and rep. I can’t get a permanent link to the bill.. So go to the Senate website, click on “Legislation and Records” and type “spam” into the “Or by Keyword” search.