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Lies, Damn Lies, and Politicians...

Monday, October 31, 2005
I don't usually post reactionary gripes about politics, BUT...

For someone who once promised to be a "Uniter, not a Divider", Samuel Alito is a pretty provocative choice for the Supreme Court. Do we really need to shift our judicial system to the right? Is this really a nomination that leaves the other 48% of us feeling good about our government?

Looking back, maybe his personal laywer wasn't THAT bad a choice...


Sunday, October 30, 2005
So I have to travel to Phoenix, AZ this week. Three days of being there "for work". That's cool. Last week I drove to Medford, OR, which was not so cool - but for the fact that I got to hang out with my brother in Eugene made up for it. Now I have to fly, which the Transportation Security Administration has made oh-so-convenient for (relatively) honest citizens such as myself. Oh well.

I will say this about Medford, though. I could start to like a place where rush-hour means I'm doing 70 mph on I-5 instead of 75. Damn that's nice.

One of the best albums of all time...

Friday, October 28, 2005
I'm going to go on record here as stating that Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" album is one of the greatest of all time. There are no "throwaway" songs - in fact, there's no low point to the album at all. How can you go wrong with a 5-song album where 40% of the songs are titled "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"?

Each song has its treaures. In "Have a Cigar", the music executive asks the band "Oh by the way... which one's Pink?" And while the title track is a wonderfully mournfeul song, the song(s) "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (about former band frontman Syd Barrett is (are) a true highlight, with soul-wrenching guitar permeating almost 26 minutes of song.

Anyway, if you haven't listened to it, do so.

Obscure Meaningful-Only-To-Me Post

Monday, October 24, 2005
Score: 700

Weighing in on the whole Jack Thompson thing

Friday, October 21, 2005
So much has been going around on the ol' Intarweb about activist-laywer Jack Thompson, who, after exchanging phone calls and email, tried to get the guys at Penny Arcade arrested. He also (in an amazing act of satire), pledged $10,000 to charity if someone would make a violent video game since he's vehemently opposes violent video games, sex in the media (or in general, we hope), and anything else that might contribute to the moral downfall of America.

Now, I'm not going to cast judgement on Jack Thompson. He's been getting a lot of media coverage (mainly for making an ass of himself) but that's his right. The angle I'm going to focus on is that of free speech. It's been pointed out a gazillion times on the web that there are two kinds of free: free (as in beer), and free (as in speech). Free beer is unquestionably a Good Thing(tm). There are no caveats with free beer, there are no limitations, there are no angles to think about. Free speech, however, must be actively maintained and defended. As Voltaire said, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it. "

Jack Thompson has the right to voice his opinions. Jack Thompson, as much as it pains me to say this, has the right to campaign and lobby for what he believes in. I am not a lawyer (IANAL) (though Jack is) but he probably has the right to file a lawsuit to try to change the laws to suite his morals. Unfortunately for Jack, the First Amendment more or less means the other side gets to state their opinion, too. My personal opinion is that Jack is a jackass. I can state that freely and my right to do so is protected. However, the responsibility of the consequences of my speech fall upon my shoulders. (Of course, if you give someone a bunch of free beer and they drive drunk and kill someone, I'm sure you can be sued for that, too.)

Anyway, that's my take on Jack Thompson. He's an idiot, but he has the right to say what he's saying. That's the burden we must all bear if we're to have constitutionally protected free speech.

A momentary gripe

Thursday, October 20, 2005
Microsoft Product Activation has successfully wasted yet another half-hour of my life. I hate voice recognition systems, especially when you have to read a 48-digit code to a computer. It's even worse when you KNOW it won't go through successfully and you need to talk to a human being, because you still have to go through the voice-recognition before it'll let you talk to an actual person.

I want that part of my life back. Sigh...

How to make kick-ass spaghetti

I went to my parents' house the other night for dinner. My dad made an excellent spaghetti. Thinking about it, I decided to post MY recipe for spaghetti, which I personally love. Here's how to make my kick-ass spaghetti. Lots of this I got from my mother, but it's evolved considerably since then.

2 jugs of Ragu (or somesuch) flavored Tomato, Basil, & Garlic (or something slightly spicy
1 lb ground mild italian sausage
1 lb ground pork sausage
1 lb ground turkey (or turkey breast)
1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 green pepper
1/2 small bag of sweet white corn
1/4 cup of brown sugar (thanks for the reminder, Laura)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 small can of tomato puree
3 tablespoons of minced garlic
an assortment of spices, including fennel (very important), black pepper, basil, and "italian spices".

Pour the Ragu into a large crock-pot. Turn on crock-pot. Dice green pepper and cabbage, and insert into sauce. Insert corn into sauce. Add garlic and spices. Brown sausages and turkey. Drain fat and put meat into the sauce. Mix tomato paste and puree into sauce. Add sugar. Cook for about 3 hours. Turn off the crock-pot and drain any fluid sitting on the top. Place the crock-pot in the refrigerator over-night. Remove 2 hours before serving the next day. Warm and server. Pasta optional.

Serves about a dozen.

Movie Review: Good Night, and Good Luck

Sunday, October 16, 2005
Mike and I saw the movie Good Night, and Good Luck today. It's the story of the battle newsman Edward R. Murrow who, while working for CBS in the 1950's used television as a format to strike back at Senator Joseph McCarthy during the "Red Scare"

The movie is very well done and shows us today a time where integrity was certainly more of an issue in the media that it is now, where the media several factions divided and often played against each other. The movie reminds us what a powerful democratic tool a skeptical and wary media can be in keeping the government in check. For this reason I recommend that everyone view this movie.

Technically speaking, I have to say that George Clooney seems to have borrowed a lot from the Steven Soderbergh School of Directing with discontinuous video/voice and major plot points shown rather than explained. Steven Soderbergh has made some very good films (except for Ocean's Twelve!) but his directoral style is not one I'd like to see emulated.

Final word on Good Night, and Good Luck: See it. You'll be a better American for it.

Movie Review: Serenity

Hey, I saw Serenity again, after having watched most of the Firefly series. Still a terrfic movie, although I see some discontinuties between the relationships and personalities on the ship. Nonetheless, I can still recommend that you absolutely see this movie and - if possible - take several friends. Do it while it's still in the theaters!

System upgrades planned...

Saturday, October 15, 2005
Currently this site shares a server with badge.dhs.org, my personal server. You can see the specs here, but to sum the machine that these pages come from is a PowerMac G4 450.

However, I use this machine for many other things, such as video editing, music, ICQ/AIM/Yahoo IM, web surfing, and more. So a computer that's darn near 5 years old is really starting to show its age.

I've ordered (and will be replacing this box with) a 1.42 Ghz Mac mini with a gigabyte of memory and an additional 160 GB hard drive. Stay tuned for upgrade news!

Magical Blogger Mood Ring

Current Mood: Grey

I'm okay right now, I suppose. Just ambivalent. Gettin' by, though, and that's sometimes the point, isn't it?

Flog the bastards

Friday, October 14, 2005
The problems:
1) prisons are overcrowded
2) minor offenses are being let go completely because there's no room for the offender
3) juvenile offenders go more or less unpunished because they're young and don't know better

The "Burton Solution":
Flog 'em all. Seriously. There is little more that is good for society than flogging and forgiving. Give the criminal some scars to remember their crimes by, and they let them go. We provide quick medical care afterwards to make sure there's no infections, but otherwise we flog anyone from 12 on up for most small first offenses, such as petty drug crimes, knocking over a liquor store, big bar-room brawls, etc. Serious criminals get the lock-down, but this way we give keep them seperate from the criminals that are just tyring it.

What really makes this plan special is that each flogging is public and televised. No attempt is made to glorify the flogee; in fact, every attempt is made to humiliate and shame them publicly. This way we get to teach them a lesson, rather than letting them hang out and learn more crime tips from each other.

The benefits to this plan are clear: we save a ton of money on prison space and "rehabilitation" for small crimes, while at the same time using a highly effective motivational force to prevent crimes: pain.

So that's my plan, I hope y'all will vote for it when the time comes.

A momentary gripe

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Let me say again, this is my blog, I can do what I want. What I want to do right now is complain (as loudly as possible) about the crap-ass web site run by Cisco Systems, Inc. I mean, try finding any relevant information on ANYTHING there. (Calling them isn't much better.) I created a support account and tried to link our (work's) service contract to it and it took forever and kept telling me that my (simple) password was broken and I'd need to change it, but even when I changed it they wouldn't let me log in. Then try getting updates for anything you bought without a service contract. No way, no how. As much as I like Cisco products, I'm more than unimpressed by their web site!

Movie Review: Aliens

Monday, October 10, 2005
This weekend I watched one of the best movies to come out of the mid 80's: Aliens. A sequel to the successful Alien film of 1979, this one is about an armed return to the planet of LV426, where the original Alien was found.

One thing that I personally liked about this film was its intense rewatchability. I watched the original Alien when I was 6 or 7 - not really old enough to appreciate H.R. Giger's work. What I was old enough to do is have nightmares for years. This movie, which I finally watched in college, helped me resolve that. This movie took the Alien out of the nightmare category.

There is one question I have that is never resolved in ANY of the Alien films: what was the giant Alien whose ship crashed in the first film?

Final word on Aliens: Great movie, I watch it again and again, it was better than "Cats".

Measures of success

Thursday, October 06, 2005
It's been said that success is in how you define it. I'm a bit of a pessimist at times (I know that comes as a shock to my dear readers) but I'm a fan of setting the bar for success pretty low. That way you either a) succeed easily and feel good about it, or b) miss a pretty easy target and deserve to feel bad.

Let's take an example. My measure of a good day is "has anybody tried to set me on fire?" If attempts at incineration have NOT been made then it's a good day. Thrashing about in flame would define a bad day. So far my life has been pretty good by this measure of success.

How about another example: How's your job? Well, I could say that I'm dissatisfied with the lunch room arrangement and the location of the building, or I could content myself with a simple "they haven't fired me... yet.". It's all in how you look at it. So, while I'm pessimistically putting the bar low, I feel good because I succeed at everything I try!

Power Plays

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
So on the radio this morning they were talking about the AUC, a right-wing paramilitary group that's been terrorizing outlying areas of Columbia. The radio spoke of civilian massacres, disappearances, and other terror tactics used to control the people.

If you look at my post before on the movie "Lord of War", there's a common theme of armed groups trying to extract power from the local populace by means of force. My question to you is this: what good does that do? I'm reminded of a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony." While it's been said that many people in the world LIKE having someone tell them what to do, I'm a big fan of the old "representative government".

A republic or democracy has a lot going for it. We have a lot of freedoms, we (generally) don't have death squads coming around reinforcing their power by killing us, we (try to) have freedoms for all people and groups. I believe in the power of democracy and I believe in freedom. I ALSO believe that an unfair government should be ousted by whatever means necessary. (At this point I'd like to say "hi" to the FBI, who is reading this, I'm sure.)

I see no long term benefit to rule by force versus rule by choice. I see only pain for many, power for few, and a rule that will eventually fail and leave a country in shambles.

Movie Review: Serenity

Monday, October 03, 2005
My blog, I can post what I want. I saw Serenity today with Mike and it was absolutely, positively great. Yes, better adjectives fail me. The movie was that good?

Let me speak on a topic I feel passionately about: science fiction. I like science fiction. Some of the stories I love most are Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, or Isaac Asmiov's Robot series. These are stories that talk about humanity and they're wonderful metaphors for timeless problems that we (people) have faced for thousands of years and will likely face for thousands more. Science fiction movies build upon this by giving us a visual medium for our thoughts, allowing us to literally see another's vision for how the problems will play out in the future.

Serenity succeeds in being an excellent film because it does what good science fiction does: it tells a story about people. Unlike the abomination, Serenty tells a story, with all the whiz-bang effects supporting that story. The movie has characters that think, feel, anger - they even swashbuckle at times. It's a summoning of the good old days of science fiction, when the story was about the people and not the effects.

Please note that I saw Serenity without ever having seen Firefly, the show on which it was based. I'm told that fans of the show were not disappointed. I never saw the show and I was stunned with how easy it was to follow, given a huge back-story I knew nothing about.

Final word on Serenity: See it, even if it means selling your young on the black market.

Magical Blogger Mood Ring

Today's Mood: Orange
I'm feeling optimistic today after the weekend, with a renewed fire. We'll see what this week holds.



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