Feb 092016
 

Today I’ve discovered that there’s a word I’m not fond of.  It’s not a new, trendy buzzword.  It’s not some made up word from fiction.  It’s a word that I’ve used throughout my life, and that it’s only just dawned on me is an awful word…   sanction.  Not that the word itself is offensive, either, but that it’s two primary definitions are nearly antonymous.

sanc·tion
ˈsaNG(k)SH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1.
    a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule.
    “a range of sanctions aimed at deterring insider abuse”
  2. 2.
    official permission or approval for an action.
    “he appealed to the bishop for his sanction”

So, it can be a threat for doing something wrong or it can merit approval.  Good job, English language, you have failed us yet again.  This came up because of a headline on Ars Technica that read: “Star Wars officially sanctions Rick Rubin-produced dance album”.  I assume that by “Star Wars” the author meant “Disney”, but the point remains that the title of the article could work in either meaning of sanction.  It’s not uncommon for Disney to frown upon unofficial derivatives, thus that was my initial understanding of the headline.  Apparently I understood incorrectly.

May 012013
 

Today is a half-ranting, half-questioning the order of things type of day.  Ars Technica today has a story about Netflix losing the Warner Bros. portion of it’s catalog as WB plans to move forward with it’s own streaming media service.  This is a very mixed bag to me, and here’s why:

On one hand, I am holding on to all hope for the day that HBO Go becomes unshackled from the chains of cable/satellite subscriptions.  If I could pay HBO $4.99/mo to stream HBO Go without cable, I would ditch cable in a heartbeat.  That would be, to me, as or more valuable then the few bucks I give to Spotify every month.  Conversely, despite no longer being a Netflix subscriber, it irks me when content producers and publishers pull shows from content distributors to make their own service.  This splintering of availability can only be seen as a money-grab and really weakens the whole of the ecosystem.  (For the record, I feel this way about the video game industry as well, and wish awful things upon EA for being forced to use Origin when Steam would be better)

So, while I wish for a day when I can ditch cable entirely (it’s coming), I don’t necessarily want everything truly à la carte; I just want things better.  Hulu Plus and HBO Go (and previously Netflix), as well as game services like GameFly, are where I want things to go.  I just want them to also stay there once they land.

Dec 102012
 

As some of you may have heard, last week saw a prank call by radio personalities in Australia to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine “Kate” Middleton) is being seen for severe morning sickness.  Apparently, however, the nurse that took the call and passed it along to the ward where the Duchess was staying committed suicide on Friday, and all indicators point to this being caused by the prank calls.  Now there is a cry out against “shock jocks” (a moniker often reserved for the likes of Howard Stern, who certainly is more shocking than a prank call pretending to be the Queen Mother) and finger-pointing at the two Australians behind the calls.

Frankly, I think this is just insane.  It was a prank phone call.  It’s awful that Ms.  Jacintha Saldanha decided to take her own life over the issue, but is blaming these two radio personalities the answer?  If someone commits suicide because they lose their house, and it’s because they were legitimately not credit worthy, is it the bank’s fault that they took things to that level?  I say no.  What do you think?

Sep 202012
 

Shame on Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson for her decision on Gary Johnson’s eligibility to run as the Libertarian candidate for President of the United States on Michigan ballots.  Instead of interpreting the sore loser law through a lens of common sense and dignity, she instead chose to make it an issue of partisan tom-foolery.

Incomprehensible!  I know who won’t be getting any votes from me in the future.

If you agree, contact the Secretary of State office.  If someone has a phone number or email, that would be ideal.  For now, use this contact form:

http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-15049-25634–,00.html

Explain to Secretary Johnson that chess-style manuevering should not trump the rightful and moral interpretation of our laws, either in the fine State of Michigan, or in our great country.

 

For more information, please read the following:

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/09/20/50483.htm

http://www.examiner.com/article/gary-johnson-loses-battle-michigan-appealing-decision

Jul 242012
 

I wonder how much of that table, if you dig really, really deep, has something in it that someone will find revolting.

From the vast number of news articles about vegetarian and vegan products, to news about “pink slime” and cochineal beetles used as food coloring, consumers are being overwhelmed with news about what goes into products.  This is good from a knowledge perspective, and bad because a lot of it is hype.  Wired has been doing this for years, typically with a one- or two-page bit in the magazine called “What’s Inside?

The Wired blurbs tend to be interesting, but often stories carried as “news” are a bit more concerning.  Where the What’s Inside? articles are generally matter-of-fact, the news articles often carry some bias.  This all came to a head for me today when I read this gem on ABC’s ABCNews Go site today.  It discusses the “7 grossest things in your food,” and the writer even believes some are possibly worse than pink slime.  But are they really?  Americans have spent decades becoming more disassociated from their food even while we consume greater and greater quantities of it.  Of the seven listed items, the only one that truly concerns me is Prozac and other medications found in poultry.

Ok, I get it.  That’s really not good.  Though I would imagine that most of those compounds lose their efficacy upon cooking.  But the other six?

Yes, rennet is an enzyme from a cow’s stomach and is used to make cheese.  Rennet  isn’t a man-made chemical, and has been used in cheese making for a very, very long time.  Actually, according to the post linked in the last sentence, it IS man-made these days, which actually makes it vegan as far as I can tell.  Still, even if natural rennet is not always vegan, is an enzyme from a cow’s stomach somehow not vegetarian?  it’s not meat.  if you can drink milk, you can consume enzymes in my book.

And oh noes!  There’s lanolin in gum?  It’s sheep oil?  Collagen from a fishes bladder in beer?  Beetle resin on my candy?  First, you’ve probably been consuming these things your whole life, and prior to being granted this knowledge thought these were delicious consumables.  Second, a lot of people might freak out about duck feathers in dough-based products, then go and eat a Big Mac.  Seriously people?  Duck feathers are far more natural than a McDonald’s patty, and probably much better for you.  If it’s what works…

Remember, lots of people around the world eat testicles and crazy looking things from the ocean.  If a little extra fiber via wood pulp in your bran cereal is enough to make you lose your mind, you should probably just at lettuce.  Organic lettuce.  From the farmer’s market.  That was grown on rainbows and love.

Jun 262012
 

Dear Tara Carreon,

I’m sure by now you are aware that much of the Internet citizenry finds you and your husband to be utterly out of line.  However, Tara, you especially seem content to name call and belittle people you do not know because they’ve chosen to take to anonymity.  Isn’t free speech and Constitutional Law the very thing that Charles Carreon has spent his career upholding?  How then should it appear to us that he is fighting against those very same tenets that he has built his career and reputation around?

In the beginning, I found Charles Carreon to be a deplorable human being.  As a Libertarian who believes fully in Constitutional Law, I am appalled at the painstakingly autocratic approach that your husband is taking.  Still, I can accept that his views may suddenly become different while he is roasting under the spotlight.  You though…  Mrs. Tara Carreon…  you are a true piece of work.  An utterly despicable, nasty kind of human that says preaches one thing and acts upon another.  You say that it’s horrible, that Inman and those who have taken his side are so immoral as to attack you and your poor husband, while with your tongue firmly in your cheek you return the same in kind.

So, Tara, here I am.  I am not anonymous.  I am Jesse Williams.  A father, a professional and a combat veteran from Royal Oak, MI.  I hide behind nothing.  In plain sight of gods and men, I tell you that you are awful and your behavior incredibly irresponsible.  You and your husband have taken a simple stroke of the pen, and demonized it for what appears to be nothing more than media attention.  They say that no press is bad press, but I hope in all earnest regards that your husband’s career is ended due to this outlandish and unlawful affront to the laws of our fine country.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jesse S. Williams

 

 

For more reading, check out:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/funnyjunk-lawyers-wife-wades-into-fray-calls-critics-nazi-scumbags/

Jan 222012
 

So, recently I’ve had a few conversations with people (most notably Samir) about why I enjoy Apple products.  I’ve been given a bit of crap about loving my iPhone and shunning Android.  Apparently this is seen as anti-geek, a step away from the tinkering fool I once was.  My argument has been, for quite some time regarding the iPhone and the Mac (I’ve had both for about two years now), that I simply don’t have the time or energy to deal with the nuances and bullshit of Windows and Android.  I don’t want to hunt for drivers, verify version compatibilities, change out this, that or the other thing, anytime I want to install a new app.  I want it to “just work,” and it does.  This pleases me.

Another thought has been creeping out from my subconscious lately about the simplicity involved here.  Sometimes it’s a matter of visual appeal – simple, clean interfaces – though Windows has been making great strides to this effect as well of late.  Sometimes it’s a matter of overall simplicity.  Last week I downloaded Pages rather than get a new version of MS Word for Mac.  I love Word, I know Word… some might say carnally.  Word and I have been involved for a very, very long time.  I can make Word do just what I want it to, when I want it to, almost every time.  The thought of moving to a new word processing app made me apprehensive, to say the least.  After only a week with it, thought, I can say that apprehension was for naught.  I still don’t have the working knowledge of Pages that I do of Word, but it’s just so… so…  pretty.  I don’t mean this in the typical geek way; I can’t skin it with Gears of War logos or a Star Wars font.  I can’t make the borders match my guild colors.  I mean it in an artistic way.  It’s clean, sleek, even minimal, and I love it all the more for those reasons.

Maybe I’m losing geek cred with every conversation I have like this.  If that’s the case, so be it.  My hardcore days are over.  I don’t use linux (despite the BSD shell in OSX), I don’t crack lines of perl out anymore, and I don’t play MMORPGs into the wee hours of the morning.  Yeah, I said it.  What now?!

Jan 212012
 

Zynga, the company behind the atrocity that is Farmville, is a company that most gamers despise.  Their claws latched into casual gamers around the world, the bilk people of hard-earned dollars with micropayments for silly things like orange pigs and green alien cows.

Sadly, when looking for a Scrabble-like game on my iPhone a long, long time ago, the best I could find was Words with Friends.  At that time, it was developed by Newtoy, Inc.  Eventually, though, Zynga ate them like a hearty appetizer, and spawned a whole category of “with Friends” games.  Now I own them all: Words, Hanging, Scramble, Chess.  I hate that I feed their eager maws, even without paying for microtransactional coins and bits and doodads.

HOWEVER, these games are really good.  Scramble with Friends, the newest word game (like Boggle, more or less) has been beneath my grubby fingers several times a day since it came out.  So, I recommend buying it.  It’s good.  It’s okay to hate Zynga, and still feed them.  They’re obviously hungry after all…

Nov 262008
 

As usual, I will start with a news article. *LINK*

KTVU.com

Suspect, Mother Killed In Home Invasion Robbery

POSTED: 12:36 pm PST November 25, 2008
UPDATED: 7:37 am PST November 26, 2008

SAN MATEO, Calif. — A gunman shot and killed 24-year-old Loan Kim Nguyen as she lifted her young children to safety through a window Tuesday morning during a failed home invasion robbery attempt. The gunman was then killed in an ensuing gun battle with responding SWAT officers, according to authorities.

San Mateo police said they received a call from a man at about 9:40 a.m. about an armed robbery underway at a home on Hobart Avenue near South El Camino Real. The caller told police his wife and children — aged 1 and 3 — were in the house and had barricaded themselves in a bedroom, police Deputy Chief Mike Callagy said. The man wasn’t home at the time, but had received a text message from his wife about the invader, according to officers.

Officers arrived at the scene and set up a perimeter around the house. The male suspect was observed inside the residence with a handgun, according to officers. After a shot was heard fired inside the home, a Special Weapons and Tactics team was summoned. Hostage negotiators were also brought in to attempt contact with the suspect in an effort to get him to surrender, Callagy said.

SWAT officers surrounded the house and were able to get in telephone contact with Nguyen. She reported that the suspect was trying to gain entry into the bedroom where she was barricaded with her children and that she wanted to lower the children out of the bedroom window so officers could get them to safety.

At an early evening press conference to address the incident, San Mateo Police Chief Manheimer said Nguyen was struck as she was lowering her children to officers standing on a van in the driveway of the home when the suspect began firing blindly through the walls of the bedroom.

She said police returned fire as one child was safely taken away. Nguyen handed the second child to an officer before crumpling to floor of the bedroom, Manheimer said.

She was taken to Stanford Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The children were not harmed.

“The victim in this case is nothing short of a hero for saving the lives of her two small children from the crazed gunman,” Manheimer said.

She said it’s not clear yet who fired the bullets that killed Nguyen or the suspected intruder. But she said police were not shooting when Nguyen was hit.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said investigators will perform a ballistics comparison to try to answer that question. It is also unclear how the suspect died. Manheimer said suicide has not been ruled out.

The children were uninjured in the incident and Manheimer commended the officers “who at great risk to their own safety and also under fire” saved them.

She said one officer jumped off the top of the van holding one of the children after the suspect began shooting. She said some officers may have suffered minor injuries but nothing serious.

Police are still investigating whether the suspect knew the victim or her family. A car was towed from across the street that Manheimer say may be related.

In addition to the criminal investigation by the San Mateo Police Department, the department will conduct an internal investigation into the officers’ actions. The District Attorney’s Office will also investigate that aspect.

Manheimer said there were several points at which gunfire was exchanged but that the details are still unclear. Officers from eight agencies responded.

Larry Schieser, a real estate agent who works at the nearby Prudential California Realty, said he was having a normal morning at work around 9 a.m. when he saw a couple of police cars.

A steady stream of patrol cars then followed, and a SWAT team arrived.

He said he then heard numerous gunshots.

“Once the shots were fired it became very quiet in our office, surreal almost,” he said. “We realized something serious was taking place.”

He said he and his coworkers were told to stay inside the office while police investigated.

The home where the shooting happened is across the street from a Montessori preschool called Bright Beginnings Toddler.

Jerry Adan, who answered the phone at the school, said staff members Tuesday afternoon were focused on making sure their preschoolers were OK.

Copyright 2008 by KTVU.com and Bay City News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

First of all, that mother is truly a hero. Frankly, I believe that it’s a parents duty to protect their children, but so few parents are any good at it these days that a woman like that truly does deserve praise, may she rest in peace. Her children are very lucky to have had her and damned well better honor her memory down the road.

Now, on to the issue at hand. Getting a bullet to the skull is not a horrible enough fate for people like this. Cases of this nature lead me to sometimes wish we did not have the no cruel or unusual punishment clause in our justice system. I understand that clauses benefits, but my problem is this: If there is no god, no afterlife, no heaven and hell, this person did not receive what justice was meant for him.

Therefore, in cases like this, where there is 100% proven guilt witnessed by many, this clause should be sidestepped. If the shooter was captured alive he should go to prison and have a SodomBot™ as a roommate. If it was a sexually related violent act, he should get two of them. If it was against a woman or a child, he should get four. These should be his lifelong pals. Sort of a manmade version of Dante’s Inferno.

Additionally, I think more people should believe in vigilantism. The power of mobs is an amazing deterrent.

Nov 212008
 

First, in case you don’t actually know me, let me say that I love America. I love my country. I’ve fought for my country. I vote! I love America. But lately, I’m not terribly fond of Americans. Political correctness, racial oversensitivity and the feeling that America must repent for its ways are no longer amusing anecdotes, but troublesome realities. Take for instance this article.

The basics of the story are as follows. A student at a high school in Florida was suspended for ten days because he showed off a knotted rope. Okay, I’ll bite. Apparently it was tied in a slip knot and potentially could have been a noose. While school officials stated that there are no racial tensions, they also mention another incident where police were called in because students were cheering the Obama win. Paranoid much? I’m pretty sure I learned how to tie a hangman’s noose when I was maybe ten years old. Boy Scouts didn’t fool around. You needed to know a LOT of knots. But I’d like to call into question the following items… Was it a rope, or a “rope”? Was it a hangman’s noose knot or a simple slip knot? Was he forming a noose, or a simple loop with a slip knot? Was he talking about hanging someone, harming someone or otherwise being racially or physically harmful to anyone? So far the answer appears to be “no” to the latter, so WTF is the big deal?

The quotes from the NAACP rep that was interviewed for the news item are priceless. I shall put them here:

For many, the display of a noose is symbolic of earlier times in the nation’s history when blacks were hanged and mutilated by mobs or hooded Ku Klux Klansmen across the South. Charles Favors, president of the South Brevard NAACP, said the school district must remain firm in meting out punishment in the case.

“It’s very serious. We lost so many lives behind the noose,” Favors said.

“It could start something that could get out of control. The real factor now should be that any disregard of race must be met with consequences,” Favors said.

God help us if a black man sees a white man docking his boat. The poor boater might go to jail. Seriously people… get over yourselves! I’m not racist, I hate everyone equally. And from that perspective I can firmly and positively say that if you are black, and everything is still colored by slavery to you, you are wrong. Likewise, if you are white, and everything seems worse since slavery ended, you are also wrong. I’m tired of the double standards. I’m tired of the racial oversensitivty. I’m tired of being made to feel bad because I’m a white American male. So, to those of you who think I’m an asshat right now, picture both of my middle fingers firmly raised and facing you.

Thank you!