Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It doesn't get any greener than this. It's the water powered clock. Potato powered clocks are just so passé.
The Pint Lock, the answer to "how do I keep that goodness out of my roommate?"

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Obi Wan Cannoli. Cuke Skywalker. Princess Lettuce. Ham Solo. Chewbroccoli. C3 Peanuts. Tofu D2. Darth Tater (no, not THAT Darth Tater). It's Grocery Store Wars.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Episcopalian Church in Connecticut is currently going through some big issues. You ought to check out[1] what an Episcopalian Church in New York is up to, however.

[1] Via "Musings of an Expagan."
Rocketboom is showing The Way to Armadillo in honor of Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ann T. Christ moves a couple more chess pieces:
The United States wants Britain's proposed identity cards to have the same microchip and technology as the ones used on American documents.

The aim of getting the same microchip is to ensure compatability in screening terrorist suspects. But it will also mean that information contained in the British cards can be accessed across the Atlantic.
Suggestion -- implanting those microchips in your head ought to work much better.
How's my driving? It looks like Big Brother will just e-mail it in:
Companies will no longer need to employ the general motorist to tattle on drivers with risky behaviors, DriveCam will do it for them. A small video camera and reorder[sic] is mounted on the rear view mirror and captures what the driver sees and hears, inside and outside the vehicle. Accidents, hard acceleration, braking or turning would trigger the system to start recording. How long until the car rental companies catch a whiff of this?[1]
Actually, my own home state of Connecticut already has rental car angencies who have tried to do this but ended up losing in court.

[1] Via AutoBlog
VW is coming out with the CrossGolf, basically an SUV version of a Golf.

It's rather uglier than sin, something akin to a Pontiac Aztec.
Blue LED's on newer electronic devices not just an annoyance:
Some researchers report that, at night, even low-level blue light may be enough to trigger recently discovered receptors in the retina that can depress melatonin production, disrupt sleep patterns and suppress the immune system.
I did notice my gout clearing up after covering the blue LED's on my laptop.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Plonker that I am, I've run across this English-to-American Dictionary so that you're fully armed when traveling the British Isles.

Monday, May 23, 2005

There seems to be a bit of buzz over the race to halt Medicaid coverage of Viagra for sex offenders in New York. I guess I'm not thinking clearly due to the lack of sleep, but if the sex offender in question has squared up with the house and done their time, are they not entitled to the same medical benefits as others? I understand (or at least I've heard) about the high rate of recidivism with sex offenders, but taking back coverage like this extends punishment beyond what was prescribed by the court and assumes a perpetual state of guilt on the person who has paid for their crime. If a person did their time and obtained the medicine for legitimate purposes, why go on punishing them?

The reason for holding back Medicaid in this instance may have similar logic to the law that prohibits felons convicted of violent crimes from obtaining fire arms (a punishment that is extended beyond imprisonment and prescribed by law), but in that case you're restricting access to something in an absolute sense related to the crime you committed. In this instance you're only limiting public funding of prescription medicine -- the medicine can still be obtained and used, but you're just not using tax payer dollars to pay for it (using tax payer dollars to pay for erectile dysfunction products at all being a totally different discussion).

I guess to put it another way -- if a person convicted of larceny has done their time and then contracts a disease that severely affects their hands, should the government withhold Medicaid to treat the very hands that caused injury to another? Where does the line get drawn?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Finally. There is a bill being started in the house to tie UN funding to reform:
One of the bill's most controversial proposals will be linking dues to the changes it spells out. The document stipulates that if the reforms are not carried out, Congress will withhold 50 percent of U.S. dues to the U.N. general budget, taking the money from programs it deems inefficient and wasteful."
50 percent is a start. I'm having a hard time figuring out what earthly good the UN has accomplished lately.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Have you seen PostSecret? It's a blog where people send in their secrets on a postcard and some get published. It covers everything, from TMI...

...to the truly creepy...

...to the truly sad...

Now here is a good use of technology -- pay for parking with your SMS enabled cell phone:
Under the trial at Cardiff Central Station, drivers will register their stay with a text or phone call and pay only for the exact time required.

Similar mobile phone payment systems have already been introduced at car parks in America, Ireland and London.

Under the system, motorists pay for the exact time they need to park using text message or by making a phone call.
In a fully automated world your cell phone could act as your credit or debit card, and different "appliances" (cars, vending machines, check-out lines at the store) could have an interface or protocol to your cell phone.

Put your cell phone in your car and your car detects that it has a mode of payment that it can use at various places -- the parking lot in this example, the car wash, the drive-through at Dunkin' Donuts, or the gas station. Each vendor would have to be wired up to do this, of course.

Take your cell phone to the vending machine at work to pay for a snack. Use it to buy train tickets at the station. Use it at the check-out line in Wal-Mart. I think I've heard of some of these innovations going on in other countries already... many times I've heard that the US is lagging far behind other countries in the implementation of various cell phone technology.

UPDATE: Cell phones as credit card?
Minh-Duc over at State of Flux takes Andrew Sullivan to task for some of Andrew's recent comments on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Quote:
It is constructive to criticize for the purpose of improvement. After all, the reputation of our country is at stake, my reputation as well. But I have a feeling that your criticism is not of the constructive variety. It is not constructive because you believe in the phantom theory that torture is policy and that our soldiers are prone to behave in a cruel and malicious manners. I am offended, and no doubt other soldiers are as well. I have offered a year of my life to the service of my country; and in that year, I have acted honorable as any American would. Shame on you to think otherwise, shame on you!
The blogfather also has issues with Andrew. Somewhere after the election I got to the point where I just couldn't read Andrew anymore. I think he got rather upset over the states that voted against gay marriage and started viewing a lot of his politics from that angle, even if there didn't seem to be a relation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Behold the self heating, instant1 cup of latte. (via NYTimes online)

[1] Whereas "instant" means approximately 7 minutes to heat.
Oh dear, the top finalists have been announced in Chrysler's What Can You HEMI? contest. The ceremony was kicked off by the firing up of a Hemi powered grill.

A Weber it is not, although it may have dual Webers.
Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline comments on the idea floating around of having pharmaceutical companies run as a public utility:
Me, I find it disgusting. And I don't even know which part of the idea I find most revolting. Is it the thought of working for a pharmaceutical version of the Post Office, with what would surely be a dynamic risk-taking culture? Is it the thought of waiting. . .waiting. . .while higher and higher bureaucratic commissions and review boards grind slowly on to tell us what we should work on next?

Or is it just that the idea is so unworkable that I feel pity for a person who advocates it? Look, electricity and water are utilities. Rail service can be treated as one (and doesn't Amtrak do a fine job at it?) But these are mature industries whose task is to deliver steady amounts of known goods. The drug industry doesn't fit any of those criteria.
What he said, although I would debate Amtrak being an example of a fine public utility. I think worldwide we've demonstrated that the government doesn't do a good job getting mucked up in health care. It's a chilling thought to think of the government deciding which compounds to develop, which disease states to address, and lobbyists swaying the vote of their congress person one way or the other. Guh.

"We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex -- but Congress can." - Cullen Hightower

UPDATE: Conversely, I'd wouldn't mind finding a non-cluttered way for the government to deal with this:

Any of you playing that game on the inside of a Skittles package called The Hunt for Grievous? It's one of those games where you register on a website and then enter codes from the packaging:

Those folks at Mars may want to touch up the letter h k on that entry screen, is all I'm sayin'.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Kellen Winslow Jr. wins the moron of the year award, but that doesn't stop Drew Brees from accomplishing everything on his wish list.

At least if Drew does himself in we'll have a solution to the possible quarterback controversy coming up at the end of next season.
Well, as you can see I'm trying to spruce up the look around this place for all four people that visit every week. Google has been knocking down my door to get ads placed on the site, but I'm committed to keeping this an ad free place. I'm doing it for YOU.

Back here in reality the one last hitch I'm finding with this rework is that Blogger has a weird way of creating posts. I've went into the settings and told it I want to now post stuff with an .aspx extension (for .Net pages), and it says OK but only seems to tag on that extension (instead of .html) when I publish a new post or republish an old one. So what you get is a broken tagline and broken sidebar links on the .html pages. I'll figure something out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Long time Christian rock act Petra rocks no longer as fansite Petra Rock My World reports that the band is calling it quits:
Rumors of the impending demise of Petra have annoyed the band for years. Time after time these rumors were shot down by the band members.

But not this time.

Europeans who saw Petra perform recently sent word to American fans that founder Bob Hartman and lead singer John Schlitt had been talking about retirement. Hartman confirmed to petrarocksmyworld.com that it wasn't just talk.

He and Schlitt have decided "it's time to call it quits," Hartman said.

"This will most likely be our last year of ministry," he said. "We don't expect to be doing any concerts after November at the latest."
Having grown up on Petra I have to say that bums me out a bit. While not a progressive rock act I liken them to Rush in the mainstream market -- a rock act that's been around quite awhile and does it's own thing. Petra's career is roughly equivalent to Rush's in terms of longevity, although they didn't nearly put out as many albums.
Petra had endured a downturn in album sales and concert bookings since around 1995, when Hartman stopped touring with the band as guitarist. Their music progressively softened as the band recorded more ballads and worship songs, seeking radio hits that would lead to more interest and concert support. Their efforts did not seem to pay off.
I don't really see their downturn as much attributed to Hartman as I do to the tired sound they were putting out beginning in the early 90's. They rode the Elefante train to the end, and then stayed on long after others had stepped off (Elefante being the name of the brothers John and Dino Elefante, formerly of Kansas, who perfected the glam-rock chorus sound in the late 80's / early 90's and produced many Christian acts during that time (including Petra and their own band Mastedon) as well as releasing records on their own Pakaderm label).

Apparently Jekyll and Hyde will be their last album. Released in 2003 it featured a return to their hard rock roots bringing Hartman back on guitar and dumping everybody else (including long time drummer Louie Weaver) except John Schlitt (the lead singer). Can't say the drumming was better, but the song writing and overall performance was good.

Farewell, guys.

It is finished -- and the sky grew black as the night.
It is finished -- and the people scattered in fright.
The word had been done, redemption had been won.
The war was over without a fight.
It is finished.
Jesus is trying to get a driver's license in West Virginia and is apparently not having much success.
The next time you're in Taiwan make sure you grab a bite to eat at The Toilet Bowl Restaurant.
Fujutisu announces that the University of Tokyo is deploying Fujitsu's palm vein authentication technology to secure the building. Apparently it's more secure than fingerprint technology because this particular biometric is less susceptible to chaffed skin and other physiological changes. You also don't have to touch anything (no cooties from the coworkers).

My morbid mind wonders if it's more secure from a "chop-off-a-body-part" point of view. I'd like to know if vein recognitions requires pulsating blood to make the read. Not that a crazed person bent on breaking into a facility is going to care.
Although cute, driving a Smart Car may not be such a smart idea as a driver found himself in the company of insects in the grill of a large truck on the autobahn.
Did Apple sneak one in on Microsoft and patent the TabletPC?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

This is just not right, but it may be right for certain co-workers.
Behold the Tango, a brand of electric cars by Commuter Cars Corporation. There are three models, and only the top-of-the-line $85k model is available... as a kit. However, zero to sixty in 4 seconds, a 12 second quarter mile and 150mph top speed may get your mechanical juices (and your large checkbook) going. It apparently can be recharged to 80% capacity within 10 minutes (provided you have a 400 amp outlet handy) and has a range of 80 miles.

It's tiny and looks like it could be a soccer ball on a freeway full of SUVs.
You think the road laws in this country can get a little complicated, try driving in Romania with "a face like a moron."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

My Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

25% Yankee

5% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I think every day provides an opportunity to discover something that you are thankful to God for. Today, I'm thankful that these folks are not my next door neighbors.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Meanwhile, in Elma, Washington students at a local high school are taught how to make crystal meth by the local law enforcement in conjuction with the chemistry class:
She says he showed students how to make methamphetamines, and she has the video to prove it.

Grays Harbor County sheriff's deputy shows class, "And the reaction will start occurring down there and start bubbling up."

It is part chemistry class and part drug enforcement as a member of the Grays Harbor drug task force talks to Elma High School students about making Methamphetamine.

Deputy shows class: "Then you'll have a little bit down at the bottom, the white stuff, and that's your meth."
There's your meth kids. Now go get 'em. The best I ever got to see in chem class was sulfuric acid reacting with copper.

[1] Via PunditGuy.
Professor Kerr who teaches law at George Washington University and blogs at the Volokh Conspiracy (an excellent blog by law profs who speak English) notes that spyware is already illegal under existing law, although Congress seems to want to pass new legislation.
Microsoft's upcoming Metro format is being seen as a competitor to Adobe's PDF format. According to this article, though, MS is supposedly going to concentrate on creating a new "save as" function that will produce a document that is readable on any machine that has the reader software, as well as cleaning up the way Windows sends data to the printer. All the other heavy lifting that Acrobat does is supposedly not going to be challenged by Metro.

Although MS is saying that that they are going to concentrate on those two items and Adobe is saying that they aren't worried, I'm skeptical. Any time MS bolts on some new feature to Windows that takes over the functions of 3rd party software it doesn't bode well for the 3rd party. For users who want to create portable documents that anybody can read, if the stuff is built in to the operating system why are you going to bother purchasing a two hundred dollar piece of software to do it instead?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Growing up in San Diego, I was never a big fan of Los Angeles. Apparently there are some folks there now that would like you to know that Los Angeles belongs to Mexico.

At least the denizens aren't taking it lying down. Some time over the weekend a citizen made an editorial correction:

A local radio station also chimed in:

You can read about the soap opera here, here and here. When all is said and done, I'm glad a don't live in SoCal anymore.
The Pope's Golf is for sale on eBay, and for somewhere north of eighty large it can be yours.

I wonder if he's trading up to a Passat.
How many times have you gotten your favorite gadget home only to have to make an ensuing trip to the ER after slicing yourself on that hideous plastic packaging? Maybe The Amazing OpenX is in order.