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Need a shower. Need sleep.

Just saw _The One_, with Jet Li. Those of you who are actual physicists (or aspire to such a thing, like me) will find the mechanical aspect of this movie rather irritating. Some of the physics seem harshly truncated in places and mindbogglingly bizarre in others. Enh. Nothing's impossible; if I have learned any history lesson, it is that Nothing Is Impossible.

Moving on.

The action scenes in this seem a little strange. Good. That's the point. This is not supposed to be a movie that puts bullet-time into the Old West or something; it's supposed to be about a sequence of events that are more than a little strange. Where the CGI is meant to cover actual reality, it mostly does a fine job (Jet Li kicks the crap out of himself, and if you're not bunched up against your TV, eyes sharp, you won't know there weren't two of them.) Where it isn't -- as in, where Jet Li picks up a motorcycle and uses it as a club, or where he jumpkicks people in midair because he's moving faster than they can fall -- it looks strange. As it should. All of Jet Li's characters in this are supposed to play super-powered human beings; it's only natural that sequences involving their power would have a certain look.

Okay, I'll stop whinging about CGI now. I just got the feeling that people beat up on the CGI crew as if somehow they were going for super-realistic; they weren't.

The plot's actually much better than your average action movie. Jet Li plays a fairly average police officer who finds himself the target of a hit by...himself. This is where the writers got beat up by the director, though; instead of making the multiple-universes a "surprise" as it clearly seemed it was supposed to be (you know, where the audience doesn't know what's going on for a while, then everything slowly becomes clear), it is actually explained in the opening credits. The target action audience isn't expecting that kind of puzzle.

In short: Neat story. Pretty cool CGI and action sequences. Good-to-fair plot, Jet Li can actually act, and the ending's not totally happy but it does -- as is mentioned so much in the movie -- achieve a certain balance.

And now I gotta sleep.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:50 AM


31.3.02  

 
I have little secret dreams. I want to go to MIT (the likelihood of which decreases with each passing year but increases with each passing grade), I want to become famous (the likelihood of which is almost nothing, but it's a dream I probably don't want anyway, like wanting to be Wolverine or the President; it carries great hassle with it). I want to be a writer. I also would like to write useful software.

Of those four, the last two look like fair prospects. I spent a great deal of time trying to learn how to write, and I think I did a damn good job. I'm pretty sure I can write. I don't know how long it takes for the writing muscle to die, but if it hasn't completely gone, I suspect I could get back into it. Writing useful software requires a certain fluidity with thought and skills with existing technologies. I have the first, and I'm getting the second, slowly but surely.

There's this one little problem.

What do I do?

There's no Grail for me right now. There is nothing I'm aspiring to. The things I'd like to do seem like clouds in the sky: Sure, I know I could get there somehow, but which one? What thing? Where do I go first? (Airport, I hear you saying. Duh. The analogy only goes so far.)

I have nothing to throw myself at, nothing to pursue with great zeal, nothing that's pulling me or pushing me or making me want to live or die.

I need some more purpose. Do stores sell that somewhere?

Quickly -- before I forget -- Legos.

I had this crazy idea to build a tower case out of Legos, just to see if my imagined benefits (adding new drive bays/hardware/etc. is easy, and there's never the problem of getting important components in tiny cramped spaces) would truly make it worth the effort. I haven't done it yet, because I can't find a Blue Bin anywhere. (Blue Bins are the multi-block-containing products that were used in the construction of this desk.) Turns out Lego discontinued Blue Bins. This is insanely bad timing on their part; I can't feasibly order the necessary components, and it appears that Blue Bins produced a very large amount of Lego blocks for a relatively small amount of money.

Now, my only option is to purchase large amounts of relatively expensive single-color packages, or take the very disheartening -- but probably simpler -- course of switching to Duplo bricks. Honestly, it'd be a shitload easier; four high by four long by four wide would probably do a whole drive bay.

Well, I should get some specs and build a few estimate designs first. Too bad, though. I wanted to just get two bins and see what happened. Now I'll never know what kind of free-form case I could have built. :(

  posted by Gregory @ 5:42 PM


30.3.02  

 
Man, did I ever take a vacation. :\

Been out for most of three days, I think, but I'm back, and I'm ready, and I have a shitload of Espresso Chip ice cream, so I am going to kick web!

Er, ass.

Damn. I got bad at this. :(

  posted by Gregory @ 10:13 PM


28.3.02  

 
In light of a recent court decision in Denmark, copyright lawyers spoke out.

"Get away!" one shouted at this correspondant. "I stocked this bomb shelter, and you can't hide here! It fits one copyright lawyer!"

After I explained that I was not a copyright lawyer and did not need to hide, the copyright lawyer loosened up.

"Oh, oh. Okay, well, let's talk quick."

I asked if the copyright industry was worried.

"Well, no. At least, not for a few years. Then we expect something along the lines of the savings-and-loan problem. Some of us will end up in Jamaica, some in minimum-security prisons, some slaughtered by mobs. Me, I'm staying right here. You're not going to tell anyone where I am, are you?"

I reassured the copyright lawyer that I wouldn't.

"Good, good. Man, we really had the world's balls in a vise there for a while! Whoo! I personally worked as Jack Valenti's advisor for a few years. Before I left to start stocking this thing back in '99, he asked me for one last piece of advice. I told him, 'MREs keep well for several years,' and he got disgusted with me. Said this thing couldn't possibly go bad; there was no way people could get music except through him and the other few.

"Man, I'll bet he's kicking himself in the ass every morning now." The copyright lawyer chuckled. "Schmuck. Should've known better. I read my history books; I know what happens if you overextend your power. You get your overextension chopped off."

At blog time, the copyright lawyer interviewed could not be reached.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:45 PM



 
The silliest thing I have ever heard (for so many reasons) is: "What do you mean, you can't have sex whenever you feel like it? You have an SO/fiancee/gf/bf." To which I can only say: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

Okay. First, here: Disturbingly realistic sex toys. Note, if you go there (which you may only do if you are over 70 and nobody within 400 miles disapproves of sex, that's my legal disclaimer and you have been warned), that there are six different female bodies, quite a few different heads, nails, etc., and if you multiply all of it out, you get a lot of different possible female bodies.

There is one male body.

There is also one male head. That's it. One head, one body, that's the whole male line.

Six different bodies times ten different heads times, oh, say the seven or eight lip colors means you've got at least a few hundred options right there. One man, that's it.

What, you may ask, does that mean?

Well, here. Let me explain.

These dolls cost around five thousand dollars apiece, but they are the most realistic simulation of a human body apparently possible through technology.

First, this means that someone is buying these. They're not a joke site or something; there's apparently a quite high demand for a female body that doesn't say no for any reason, doesn't even talk.

Second, it means that whatever the number of male dolls that may have been sold, if you multiply that by at least thirty or forty, probably by a factor of a hundred or so, that's how many female dolls got sold.

Seriously, most men aren't looking for anything specific. They're just looking. It's been said a lot that "men are only interested in sex". Well, honestly, if it was the only thing denied you most of the time, you'd be interested too. It's not. There is a distinct power struggle that goes on between any specific two people involved in sexual relations, and it either falls into the We're Okay And We Know It category (two people completely at ease with sex), One Down And One Frustrated (one person is at ease, the other is in some form of frigid denial), or Sex? What Sex? We've Never Heard Of Sex! (two frigid-denial types). The problems with the last one are the jokes passed around so much: The people who don't know how to have sex, the ones that are so awkwardly innocent that it's funny, the ones so ignorant and scared that they get angry. The problems with the second are the ones that cause doll-purchases: One does, one doesn't, and such is life.

(You'll note I skipped over the problems of the first situation, mostly because there are no problems, at least none that the two people have with each other. Sure, local law enforcement may have a problem with it, or their church group, or their book club, or their (insert possibly micro-fascist organization here), but they have no problem, they just do what they do.)

Now, look at the doll purchases again; they tell a story, when coupled with the Three Rough Categories Of Sexual Union. The doll situation screams out, in a tiny little voice: "Women are repressed!" It does not, you'll note, say why, and there have been a gazillion reasons all through time: "Women have been oppressed by men for thousands of years!" "Women use sex as power!" etc.

The reasons are debatable. The effect is not. It's said that the pornography industry exploits women; that's not complete. It exploits people, and only if they allow themselves to be exploited. Women make the bulk of pornography product, and men the bulk of consumers, yes, but they're not the whole. Women buy, and men are product sometimes.

Realistically, it comes down -- once again -- to large media. The reason porn costs so much is because large industries control it and (lucky them!) laws exist that make things like nudity, free pornography, etc. illegal! Shit, no wonder pornographers are happy! The people who buy their stuff have massive guilt complexes about it! Their customers don't complain (as much) to the Better Business Bureau, because their parents yelled at them the first time they touched their genitals. What a lovely system!

Where is all this going?

Fucked if I know. I'm mostly talking out my ass here. *shrug*

  posted by Gregory @ 10:50 AM


25.3.02  

 
I should have a hangover.

My fiancee and the guy she works with have hangovers, and they drank about as much as I did last night (which is to say, not a hell of a lot, but enough.) We all went bowling (four of us), then we went shooting pool (five of us), and after that we went home.

While many people read this and wonder, "So what? I do that every weekend!" you must realize that I do not. In fact, I don't think I ever have. Part of this was the fact that, from age 4 to age 18, I lived in a town with a population of 50; the other part of this is the other fact that I'm a recluse.

As a result, I have never officially "clubbed" until last night, and I'm not sure that counts as clubbing since I did not, technically, dance anywhere. (I saw some other people dancing, on The World's Tiniest Imaginary Dance Floor that some drunk people decided was directly in front of the band, Bad Habits. They played some Mighty Mighty Bosstones covers and a few other things, and they played them fairly well and with amplitude that could cause spontaneous combustion, so they were cool.

No other embarrassing fallout, such as public exposure or interactions with the police, from last night. Just the faint smell of smoke reminding me to shower and change, finally, dammit.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:56 AM


24.3.02  

 
One other thing: Go here, then consider that -- if traditional ISPs are outlawed -- an underground of nontraditional ISPs will spring up, along with packet encryption techniques that wrap nontrusted packets in trusted packets.

One guy can become the "net pusher" for a whole block of people. Imagine that...when communications are outlawed, only outlaws will have communication.

Who'da thunk it.

  posted by Gregory @ 3:36 PM


22.3.02  

 
Did you say you wanted to boycott the RIAA? Yes indeedy. Lurvely.

Oh, and there's supposed to be a march on Washington.

  posted by Gregory @ 3:27 PM



 
My first answer to the question "So what's your alternative to a government-run education?" is a facetious one: "Absolutely anything else."

Seriously, though, I don't have a problem that the government is running it -- I have a problem with how it's being run. It's a popularity contest, and it doesn't have to be.

If there were some sort of (dare I say it) draft for teachers, in a way. Imagine if anybody who had a kid (as determined by birth records; those things go both ways, y'know) had to become a teacher by the time that kid entered school.

Certainly, there are those who would argue "it's not fair". Screw them. "Free" education was a nice idea, but when you have a "free" education combined with a "welfare" system combined with any number of other things which can be so easily abused as to be laughable, you have a lot of people who are willing to have nine or ten kids and feed them nothing but Spaghetti-Os in order to buy a pool and a satellite dish. Make them pay with their time.

Sure, it sounds bad, but it isn't. It's not like you'd have to teach in your town (you'd just have to teach), and it's not like you'd have to teach a full roster (you wouldn't -- there are assloads more parents than teachers). If you're biologically/legally bound to the kid, you have to teach. Not even necessarily the whole year -- presumably some sort of system could be worked out where parents would end up having to teach maybe one day a week.

To the parents who would bitch about this -- there's no such thing as a free lunch. Get off your ass. If you really think manual labor is the best way you can help your kid, too bad, you're wrong. You can teach them something much more valuable, and were this implemented across the entire K-12 system, there's no reason you couldn't show young'uns interested in your work how it was. School would become a lot more field-trip and practically based, and bright young students who could be doing something else with more impetus (hint hint) wouldn't be stuck dealing with psychotic children that are psychotic because their parents have no time to deal with them.

Simply put, make the parents do their damn job. It's nice that some countries would like to play Kind Old Uncle, but realistically, you can't expect it of them.

(How's that? Anybody got hate mail for me? Pleeeze?)

  posted by Gregory @ 2:26 PM



 
Although some lawmakers are wising up to this mess, their concerns still fall short of the "full understanding" mark, IMHO.

Part of that is because lawyers operate in a vacuum, assuming law is law. If you confuse the law of relativity with the law of RIAA, you're in for a bumpy ride, because -- as the cable piracy debacle shows -- people will turn to illegal things, especially if they think they can get away with it.

Moreover, the RIAA is doing something stupid -- copy protection -- which will actually increase piracy.

Confused? Allow me.

You, a random (mostly) uninformed consumer, walk into a store and purchase a CD. You've never done file-sharing in your whole life, and (your reasoning goes), why should you? You get home with the CD and attempt to burn a copy for your car.

Can't burn it.

After the cursing ends, if you're a paperwork-oriented kind of person, you might write letters to you congressman or even Jack Valenti. However, in this hyah modern day and age, you're more likely to go searching for that KaZaA program that will let you download burnable songs.

That's not the problem. The problem is my fiancee and her cat-wanting-wishes. For some reason, she refuses to see that cats are EVIL INCARNATE. Furry, sure, warm, sure, but if you want warm and furry, you get a DOG. DOG DOG DOG.

What the hell is the point of a cat?

  posted by Gregory @ 7:30 AM



 


...the editor suggested further evidence of pot's influence could be found in the Mac's stoned, smiley startup face, the rainbow colors of the Apple logo, and early software like MacPaint, a drawing program perfect for drug-induced doodling. Nothing like it existed on the PC platform, despite the fact that a lot of Windows programmers –- some now very rich and famous -– were also dopers, according to the editor.

"We all noticed this when we were covering this stuff," he said. "At PC Expo, people smell like booze. At Macworld, people smell like marijuana."

The editor said there's even a special pot smoking area around the back of San Francisco's Moscone Center, the long-time venue of Macworld Expo, known as "the office."

"Ten or 20 people are there all day long," the editor said. "CEOs, programmers, authors. People say, I'm just going to the 'the office' for a couple of minutes."

...

But Bunnell noted that if pot has been smoked at Apple, it could account for the machine's relatively sluggish performance.

"Maybe that's why Macs have been slower all these years," he said.



Finally, a rational explanation for everything about the differences between Macs and PCs. Maybe UNIX developers were on nutmeg?

  posted by Gregory @ 5:56 PM


21.3.02  

 
So the "hate mail" I got about the teachers post a little while back went like this...

"Teachers worry". Teachers worry -- so what? To hell with teachers.


Yeah, fuck you too. Still, how lame is that slang? It really shouldn't be "to hell with the teachers" but instead "to hell with the administration." Did you hear about the student teacher who was kicked out of Old Town High? The student teacher offer to explain anything the students wanted to know about 9/11. The students wanted to know about the Islamic religion. So he told them. And got the boot.
I also find it hard to believe that kids are using half the lingo the press says they are. Most of time the "slang" is so embarassingly stupid you just know the kids are feeding the reporters bullshit. And the news media licks it's lips and keeps on coming back for more.


True 'nuff. Really, my only point was that teachers are like the Pope to some people. "A teacher was concerned! Gosh!"


Teachers -- just like Soylent Green or Microsoft (now you should be insulted) -- are made of people. People are falliable. Regardless of what I may think of Andy (who is, in fact, a teacher himself), the school system as a whole bites, and the K-12 system in particular sucks ass.


Besides, Andy, where do you think the administration comes from? Neptune? They're old teachers, and sometimes they're not even all that old. Stupid people have a tendency to be promoted where money's involved, because they can cause less damage hovering in local school administration than in a classroom or making large important decisions at the top of the food chain.


Seriously, most mid-level types could be replaced by some sort of communication devices, because that's really the function they serve. Workers provide labor, and perhaps seven people are needed to manage some high-level aspects of things, but anything in between those seven and the whole workforce are really just taking up space, big fleshy megaphones. Wasted human beings.


Of course, some people would say that about workers (that their lives are wasted, etc.) but there's a certain pride in craftsmanship, assuming you're actually allowed to practice it.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:45 PM



 
Predictably, Slashdot picked up the Benjamin Tilly debacle. I hope I can find out what company he works for, because somebody should make an example out of their lawyers. Me, I'm hoping someday the Supreme Court takes these contractual-obligation-creation assholes and beats them like a dirty carpet. I mean that figuratively, of course. Physical violence isn't the way with pricks like that -- intellectual violence is.


People gets rights taken away all the time...it's called 'being put in prison', or 'parole', or 'house arrest', or 'working for Microsoft'. Why not just remove rights from people, instead of throwing them in jail? Strip them of legal rights they've infringed upon, then throw them back out where humanity can have a few rounds with them. Lawyer destroyed someone's intellectual property rights? Take his away. "...from this date, until the date of X, any creative or techical works you create are hereby public domain...to enforce this, your house will be searched at random times...any creative works found, if duplicatible, will be copied and handed out free; if nonduplicatable (such as sculpture, floral arrangement, etc.), they will be removed and given away."


The problem with jackass lawyers is that nobody really polices jackass lawyers. Someone should, and I don't mean other lawyers, either.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:08 PM



 
Well, it turns out that even Google is falliable at best. As many realize, the linkbombing (where lots of links to something are posted in blogs and homepages to bloat something to the top of Google searches) is kind of system-inherent (Google's method for indexing involves what people link you as, not necessarily what your home content is. This allows you to be a meta-commentator, perhaps never even mentioning the true topic by name, and still be ranked properly on subject.)

The problem is that -- where links are becoming a precious commodity in a way -- it's a short matter of time before porn sites realize they can do this too, and an ever subtler chain of links will lead you along what you think is what you want, but then dumps you at a flashing "Big Tits Here" sign. Imagine if every AVS got together and linked each other one more time with, say, the word 'noodle'. Porn sites would jump to the top of noodle searches.

This isn't a terrible idea -- it's roughly the idea at a video store. That's why all the videos have a tendency to be out of order; if you browse, you're much more likely to pick up multiple titles than if you can find it right away.

I have a crazy notion that search tools will eventually become less centralized and more personal. (As "regular" people start picking up the tiniest understandings of programming, they'll be able to plug tiny little interfaces on enormously powerful search tools and make it personalized, their very own. That, or small groups of people will use one tool, another group uses another, etc., where one tool is thwarted by this porn linkage method, etc., ad nauseum.)

I should probably start now. ;) Looks like a big job.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:12 PM


20.3.02  

 
Man, I thought my idea for a laser-designator mouse cursor (one where it would be attached to a headset, so that the cursor follows where you look) was cool, but check this projection keyboard out!

  posted by Gregory @ 11:11 AM



 

The "reduced to absurdity" end result of this would have the Web consisting of one poor schmuck who's actually writing original content, and 40 million sites filled with people rushing to post a link and a snarky comment.


It's already kind of happening, isn't it?

  posted by Gregory @ 11:00 AM



 
New philosophical blog post.

I realize they've gotten far less frequent, but I'd really like to keep the philo blog just philo. I was in a particularly philosophical mood when I started it, but that same mood strikes me every now and again. If it ever gets really infrequent, maybe I'll stop updating it and dump it on my home site somewhere, to free up the domain.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:49 AM



 
I just recieved a VERY personal letter from Christine Hall, of TrafficMagnet.net! Here, I'll show you. My responses will be in italics.
***PERSONAL NON-FORM LETTER FOLLOWS***

Hi

Hi!

I visited 5050.BLOGSPOT.COM, and noticed that you're not listed on some search engines! I think we can offer you a service which can help you increase traffic and the number of visitors to your website.

Then I'd like a quick review of what you like about it. You read, so you'll see this, won't you? :)

I would like to introduce you to TrafficMagnet.net. We offer a unique technology that will submit your website to over 300,000 search engines and directories every month.

I would like to introduce you to the best quality hydraulic heads for your pump!

You'll be surprised by the low cost, and by how effective this website promotion method can be.

You'll be surprised just how well the flanges work!

To find out more about TrafficMagnet and the cost for submitting your website to over 300,000 search engines and directories, visit www.TrafficMagnet.net.

Uh, no, that's okay. I'm good with the publicity I'm getting from all that slashfic people are writing about fifty/fifty!

I would love to hear from you.

I would love to hear from you, Christine. Are you wearing that blue thing...? The strapless one, right...? Hmm? Don't be shy!

Best Regards,

A Horse, A Bucket, And A Spoon,

Christine Hall
Sales and Marketing
E-mail: christine@trafficmagnet.net
http://www.TrafficMagnet.net

***THUS ENDS THE HIGHLY PERSONAL LETTER FROM CHRISTINE HALL***

YAAAAAY! I got another reader!

Boy, I can't wait for Christine's first email about that India-intelligence thing! :)

  posted by Gregory @ 10:46 AM



 
Note: Inanity follows. If you are offended by things, feel free to begin being offended. If you're the non-offendable type, this should be pretty funny, though. :)



fuckin wit sunshine, by saint insanity

bitch was loose wit my old skool flava
keep it on the down low like a hot pizza pie
i'm all bitch yo did not and it feel so good

we make love like a fire like a punk ass pimp
bitch was loose, like a fresh greek salad
daddy said to take yo down, wit a big wet cock
be we wrestlin ya crew and i slide it hipside

be we chronic all day long cuz yo daddy was a crack head
we bust a move, and it feel so good
east coast represents like it ain't no bitch
we make love like a fire cuz yo daddy was a bitch
we gonna cap yo family and i wanna lick you deep


That's a hummer from Waferbaby, a site I can't recommend enough. Freeform any-body-blogging at the scrawl, random stuff generators in hummer...what's not to fall in love with?

  posted by Gregory @ 9:51 AM



 
Y'know, you look like the kind of person who might enjoy a good webcomic or two. Perhaps a nice Annie? Anime-ish sensibilities (for someone who dislikes anime I sure do read a lot of webics drawn like 'em), an overall earthy humor, strong female character...the good qualities go on and on.


Teachers worry that such slang could cross the line between funny and offensive.


"Teachers worry". Teachers worry -- so what? To hell with teachers. Nothing on them personally -- they seem, in large part, dedicated individuals -- but they're the product of a godawful, buzzword-laden system that's gonna collapse under its own weight within ten years (hopefully). This is like listening to Kenneth Lay about the state of the stock market: I don't doubt that they know something, but you can bet there's a hidden agenda involved.

I heard someone (one 'plant', I believe) describe the web as 'bandwidth-wasting eye candy' once. What about non-bandwidth-wasting eye candy? Isn't there a place for that in the world? :)

  posted by Gregory @ 7:46 AM



 
It's hard to describe my mental reaction to this Spider Robinson story. Best to say that it's a neat piece of work, a story that kind of embodies a mathematical proof, if you will.

Don't take my word for it. Go read it! You have to purchase the last half/third of it, but you can purchase it with banner-ad space in front of your eyes (read: without paying money, only by paying time). A remarkable little system they have there.

Oh, and if you're looking for completely free literature, please, go hit the Eldritch Press, a repository of lots of public-domain works. Further, check out a little commentary on a certain power-hungry mouse.

Well, that's not fair, I guess. Suffice to say Mickey's fallen in with some roguish elements, though.



  posted by Gregory @ 12:46 AM



 
Sometimes things are so stupid they're funny. Case in point, the nation of India's intelligence (a misnomer here) bureau recently asked cell providers to disable SMS until it can be properly surveilled, a response I'm sure cell providers laughed at until they peed, then used the paper to wipe their ass with.

Quickly, then: What Went On In A Cellular Provider's Office When They Got This Stupid Request

"India...intelligence...requests...hang on, that can't be right. Start over. India...yup, India...intelligence...requests. Nope, I read it right. Maybe I'm hallucinating. *beep* Terry, could you come in here and read this to me, just to make sure I'm not dreaming or something? *door opens, door closes* Thanks, Terry. *listens to Terry* Okay. Let me see. A nation whose gross national product we make in a month, who has just managed to learn what a 'nuclear bomb' is, they're asking us to turn off SMS, just until they can get their heads out of their asses to figure out a way to intercept it?

*Terry nods*

Man, being in America is great. Thanks, Terry. I need to go to the bathroom so I don't piss my pants, because the humor of this is going to hit me in a second or two. Give me the letter."

Imagine your own flush noises and what-have-you.

I know what you're asking: "Where the hell do you get off with this?" Simple. I pay attention to reality; apparently people who work in large government buildings have a habit of letting it slip from the front of their eyeballs, because dumb shit like this keeps happening. CB's almost unmonitorable over short distances; CB radios are easily purchased from any distributor of electronic stuff; properly used, CBs would provide roughly equivalent capability (minus the no-voice point in favor of clandestine, criminal use). Why no worldwide ban on CB radios for the people in India who apparently don't know what money is or how it works?

Uh, duh, simple. Banning CB components would be Stupid and Pointless, much like trying to get a company who gets oodles of money for it to shut down SMS. Yeah, right. Maybe laws against prostitution will stop sex without love, too! No, better, perhaps laws against rain will prevent hurricanes!

The abuse this invites is well-deserved. I sincerely hope everybody on Earth asks the Indian intelligence bureau where they left their clue, soon.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:12 PM


19.3.02  

 
I told you there were alarming military nanotech implications, but did you listen? Nooo-oooo! It's always the same! I tell someone about the inherent dangers of a technology and they decide the best use for it is handing it to the government first!

Bad, bad plan, for a couple of reasons: Private enterprise, were it given similar funding, could do leagues better work; also, of course, now the horror stories of MiBs wearing super-suits will start circulating.

Hell, who knows? Maybe they'll be true, now.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:55 PM



 
It's hard to look at news of legal proceedings and not be reminded of David and Goliath. Enormous company goes after little company -- or, worse, one person.

The thing that kicks me more and more is just how cheap most technology is becoming. When tech was expensive, it defined a business; now, skills are starting to define businesses. (Even before the dotcom boom and implosion, technology had a tendency to define the field.) Once, all you needed was a good business plan; then, all you needed was oodles of tech (well, oodles of money to buy tech, really), and now, you need a certain amount of integration. You need a certain level of tech, a certain level of cool-headed business planning, etc. Balance. All of it comes back to balance.

The thing is that any organization that must communicate has to stay within certain size boundaries. (Anybody who has run a few Hamiltonian circuits will tell you that while the number of elements increases linearly -- which is to say, not a whole lot -- the number of relationships between elements increases factorially -- which is to say, by great honking leaps and bounds.) Then either hierarchies start to form (where bottlenecks are used to simplify communications -- that is, a factory worker doesn't have to report directly to a CEO, and vice versa), stagnation erupts (because the amount of communication begins to take up all the time formerly used in working), or else division occurs.

"What? Division? Isn't that really just another bottleneck through hierarchy?" It can be. If division is in terms of a "subsidiary", then yes, that's bottlenecking, and that can work -- hell, bottlenecks are tools too, they're not all bad -- but more often than not, it doesn't seem to. There's another kind of division, where a single company breaks into a lot of smaller companies. This is roughly equivalent to the concept of parallel processing (if those companies break and do the same things they've always done, such as the Baby Bells of AT&T). If they don't -- such as the Gore breakoffs, where the company spits new companies out and attempts to keep each operating plant at a specific number of employees -- then it produces a balance. A company too big to communicate in is inefficient sometimes; a company too small to produce large projects will never reach a decent profit margin. Gore attempts to strike that balance, and seems to do well with it. Reports I've read indicate that there's a certain homey, community-like feel to Gore. This, in turn, produces happier workers in all areas -- management feels as though it's not bloated and ignorant, and it isn't; floor workers and laborers feel like they know who runs the show, and they do; the upper management types don't feel as though they're left out of the loop, because they're not.

And don't take it from me, go look somewhere else -- but employee satisfaction causes better production.

What's this got to do with anything?

Glad you asked.

Large companies are dead and dying. The strangleholds previously held on production do not exist any more (and what few are left will not exist shortly). I can turn out a romantic comedy just as fast as a studio, with fifty people, a bare minimum of production costs, and copious free time. Why would someone pay eight dollars to see a movie when I can provide a similar (possibly better) experience at a fraction of that?

I know what you're asking: "So what? Where would you show it?"

Assuming I have post-production facilities of some form, any damn place I want to. Why would a theater pay exorbitant costs for a huge studio movie when I can provide roughly the same thing for much less?

"Well, there wouldn't be any advertising. Advertising is bought by huge companies, not little people."

True. Why couldn't I advertise locally? Why couldn't I just show it in Maine? Why couldn't someone start up a theatre that (perhaps) only shows movies locals have made, or (perhaps more realistically) show one or two feature films a year and show a lot of local films in between?

"Because it hasn't been done yet."

Sure it has. The tales of the art-house theatre are not mere tales. But art-house films play to such a small audience, you say.

So what, if my production costs are almost nothing (or at least very small?)

If I make a movie for fifteen million dollars, yes, I have to make sure that it appeals to enough people to make at least fifteen million back. But if I made a movie for ten thousand dollars, it would be a labor of love, something I spent my life on, not merely a day job (to anybody laboring/acting) or a cash cow (to the studio). I would be the studio, and perhaps twenty people would be actors, and they'd be working on it because it's something they want to do.

Chant that with me. Something they want to do.

See, for a long time doing what you wanted to for a living cost you a lot. It didn't pay well, it took more time out of your life, etc. But now that's slowly going away. Now, with more leisure time than ever (look up the statistics if you don't believe me), people are doing what they want to do, and occasionally finding that they can make enough money doing that to live off of.

Where will a large, horrid media conglomerate be when nobody wants to work at one for any sum of money they can produce?

Out in a back alley, scavenging. On their ass.

Right where they should be.

I foresee a collection of content city-states, in a way: Little communities that are possible because of the power of technology. They don't have to be physically contiguous, because of the Net; they don't have to be physically removed, either, because of cheaper travel costs. A cluster of 80% of the niche could be physically proximate, and another 20% could be floating, occasionally showing up for special events, participating in forums and net-events and what-have-you.

As more jobs become automated, people will become craftspeople instead of mere workers.

There are only a few reasons that it couldn't happen; and you know what they say. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:45 AM



 
"It's a tad warm in here."

"Yeah, it hearkens back to the tad-warmings of my youth."

  posted by Gregory @ 8:43 AM



 
Yayyyy! It's time for Filthy Movie Reviews! Yaaayyyyy!

And, in other news, the guy living in the downstairs apartment (the guy who regularly has parties until 3 or so, the guy who constantly leaves the outside door open so my landlord will take 5 dollars off the security deposit every time he does it, the guy who is the brother of the other guy who lived down there and threatened me with violence, the guy who leaves beer cans and beer and blood strewn around the driveway, has a truck that doesn't ever move, and usually has four of his friends' cars in the driveway) is moving out today.

And, really, I'll miss him.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:50 AM



 
Just a quick note, an update of sorts concerning the Current State Of Booze.

The previous list will be updated later. No hangovers on either head (probably due to our general need to hydrate). No sex, between us or anybody else. I don't think we embarrassed ourselves too badly.

Except for the last post. Laura can't change it, because I won't change it. I won't change it because she actually sang it and it was funny at the time. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 1:03 PM


18.3.02  

 

"...I was gonna screw my friend tonight, but I got drunk...
...she got scared off and run, 'cos I was drunk...
...now I'm not getting pussy, and I know why...
...'cos I'm drunk, 'cos I'm drunk, 'cos I'm drunk..."

Laura's not bi, really! She's just, uh, an experimentalist. That's it, yeah. We're sort of in college. Really! Really!

  posted by Gregory @ 6:59 PM


17.3.02  

 
((Down maybe one ounce of Limon, seven shots of watermelon Pucker, some of the Raspberry stuff, and some RLemon, RLime, and ice))

I have attempted to assemble a desk.

How sad is that shit: I'm the kind of person who gets drunk and attempts to build furniture. Maybe I'll try to fix my network while I'm at it, too. I'm such a fucking geek.

Oh, and I got some hate mail! Yaayyy!

You're a fucking asshole who never responds to e-mail!


That's absolutely not true, Andy. I respond instantly. I respond FASTER THAN LIGHT could respond. I respond at the speed of The Flash. Fuck you.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:55 PM



 
1.75 liters of Bacardi white rum
1.75 liters of Bacardi Limon
1 bottle of Buttershots
1 bottle of watermelon Pucker
1 bottle of TGIFriday's Raspberry Rush
1 bottle of TGIFriday's Orange Dream
1 bag of ice
1 bottle of ReaLemon
1 bottle of ReaLime
1/10 of a bottle of amaretto
1 bottle of Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint Schnapps
1 1/2 bottles of Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade
1 bottle of Boone's Farm Raspberry Hard Lemonade

Add that all up, and you get a PARTY. Well, with two people, you don't get so much of a PARTY as a DARK NIGHT BOOZING. Anybody wanna come over?

Go ahead. Message me if you want. My ICQ is 34122981, and my AIM is warped66six. Go ahead, I dare ya. :) If you're in Maine (and over 21) you can come over if you pass the tests and answer me the questions three.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:45 PM



 
AAAARRRRGH OH THE PAIN THE PAIN.

Enough of that.

Today is Saint Patrick's Day. This is a day that people usually attempt to drink as much as they possibly can during, while at the same time trying not to vomit everywhere. There's a long-standing tradition of this, hearkening back all the way to House Of Pain. House Of Pain was the name of a small band of Czechoslovakian immigrants who came to the United States, with only their voices, a turntable, and a rich backdrop of samples, yet went on to pen one of the most famous songs of all time: The Immigrant Song, so named after their status as foriegn aliens.

So, anyway, that's where Saint Patrick's Day comes from, kiddies. The pinching bit is just something a couple of perverts came up with in the '70s, so don't let anybody shove that lie down your throat.

My plan tonight is fairly simple. I can't really leave the house, because I believe my insurance lapsed yesterday, so I'm going to have to drink at home. In preparation for this, me and her went booze-shoppin' last night. One bottle of Buttershots, one bottle of watermelon Pucker, a little sixpack of pineapple juice, and some grapefruit juice; this is all to go with my enormous bottle of rum. We have a great night in the makin's. I'll keep you updated.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:42 AM



 
Further Webcomic News!


warped66six: Does this mean more Lina soon? :)

plufim: ummmm... maybe, I'm not wholly sure yet

warped66six: *writes in notes* Connell...being...sly...and...subtle...about...Lina...soon...

warped66six: Okay...anything else you'd like to tell the readers of the Washington Post?

plufim: there may be the proper debut of a certain cat-girl

plufim: and the origins of Rudika may be revealed

warped66six: Me, I was betting on the painful, forced sex-change origins theory, but I guess I'll find out soon :)

warped66six: ...proper...debut...cat...girl...Rudika...origins...possible...

plufim: not the sex-change option.

warped66six: Okay. What about the dead intern? Where are the bodies? WHO DO YOU KNOW?

plufim: no.

plufim: Rudika is something else

warped66six: ...wait, wrong questions.

warped66six: *shuffles papers*

plufim: the intern choked on a paperweight

warped66six: *blink* Hel-lo, story...! *scribbles furiously*

warped66six: Where'd you dump the body?

plufim: I placed various parts inside my brothers drum kit.

plufim: it's actually helped the accoustics

warped66six: Remarkable. So your advice to novice drummers is to kill someone, then see which parts accentuate the sound? Isn't that a bit of an advanced technique to be advocating for beginners?

plufim: well, they could kill a small animal first, and work their way up

warped66six: *nods thoughtfully, scribbling notes all the way*

plufim: a badger would be a good start

warped66six: That's good advice in any situation, though.

plufim: oh yes.

plufim: That's what I told Steven Bradbury, and he won an olympic gold medal


That's my EXCLUSIVE interview with Connell Wood, the raisin deterred behind Plufim Comics, a mindbending force of gargantuan proportions which threatens the whole CITY with destruc...wait. It's a webcomic, a good one, that includes (shall we say) certain anime-ish sensibilities. Anime isn't personally my thing, but Plufim's got enough crazy that I like it.

Later today, if I can get them: Shots of the pool of blood from the fight my downstairs neighbors had in the driveway last night!

  posted by Gregory @ 6:02 AM



 
I don't know how many of my faithful (two) readers know of my webcomic fetish, but Bigger Than Cheeses certainly deserves special mention. It's just hit one year, and it still doesn't regularly update. Gotta love the chaos. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 5:07 PM


16.3.02  

 
The funniest thing I've seen in a long time is an essay concerning Gay Crayon Rights. I'm really not exaggerating; Scalzi's outdone himself. He also has some salient points about Heather Hamilton.

I wonder, though, if he'll ever find out I linked him. Probably not. ;)

  posted by Gregory @ 4:15 PM



 
Now, to most of you this will merely appear to be Another Awful Thing An Asshole Did, but to one Dillinger, it is something to explain where I'm coming from.

You cannot believe how amazed I was to find that Dillinger trusts government. In IRC, he stated something to the following effect: "Why would a government screw its own people? It doesn't make sense." And sure, if you describe it in that fashion, it doesn't make sense. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about why government would screw normal people in favor of powerful or well-moneyed people, and the reason government would do that is pretty obvious: Government is made of PEOPLE, people I tell you! PEOPLE!

Anyway, here's the item.

Judge Manning, instead of stepping aside to have her improprieties assessed by an independent Judge, ruled on these charges herself - a practice that defies the principles of Anglo-Saxon law.


Here, I'll say it first: Shame on these people, this isn't how my fucking government is supposed to be run! Wretched, foul, corrupt judges! Down from thy posts, and be burned at the stake with all of you! This is precisely my problem with government: It encourages this shit in the first place. A system that is so easy to abuse in this modern day and age needs serious modification, and possibly needs total reconstruction.

  posted by Gregory @ 1:09 PM



 
Hey, did I mention LawMeme? Have I ever explained that I hate lawyers, have trouble finding a reason for most laws that exist, etc.? I'm naturally ambivalent about LM, in the sense that People Should Be Able To Dissect The Law, but Goddamnit I Hate Legal Stuff. The upshot of all this being that I think it's a good thing, but I'll probably hardly ever go there.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:25 PM



 
Kevin Smith movies (like Raimi or Gilliam movies) are like no other films, and that they know it is one of the little guilty pleasures ("...a Jay and Silent Bob movie? Who would watch that?" *look at camera, Kevin giggles*) inherent in them.

I don't like movies enough to go to most of them, though. I still haven't seen _LOTR_, mostly because I found Tolkien so unpalatable in print. I feel the movie probably doesn't quite do it justice, and I can't bring myself to read the book.

This, of course, isn't the reason I'm posting. I'm posting because I just had the new taco salad Wendy's is hawking, and it's really pretty good. Salsa included, now, so that's a step in the right direction, and there's a better bowl that it comes in, etc., mostly little changes but overall it's a much better effect. It almost feels like there's less in it, but I'm not certain of that.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:33 AM



 
Boy, I wish I would get some hate mail so that I could rip it up the way John Scalzi rips up hate mail. Anybody out there hate me yet?

Please?

  posted by Gregory @ 9:24 AM



 
Because I'm a goddamned idiot, I got a webcam.

Because I'm also lucky as hell, someone I know from school gave (!) me an old hard drive and network hub they didn't have any use for any more. Therefore, I am now working (slowly) to get the 486 in the other room ready and running as a Samba box, linked to this machine, on my own home network.

I already installed the hard drive and the new ISA network card yesterday. Took about an hour. I'm not terrible with hardware, as it turns out.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:42 AM



 
Unless I'm sorely mistaken, this is the first time I've ever mentioned sex, ever, in this hyah blog.



Take the What
animal best portrays your sexual appetite??
Quiz



And I must say...unless this test knows something about me that nobody else knows, it's way the hell off.

I have to go; got _Monty Python And The Holy Grail_ on DVD and I'm gonna go watch it. (It's got _Henry VII_ subtitles! It's so fucking creepy, just how close the dialogue is. You wouldn't think Shakespeare could be turned so easily into a medieval farce about knights, rabbits from hell, and sexually charged young women...until you think of just how accurately that describes much of Shakespeare.)

  posted by Gregory @ 7:20 PM


14.3.02  

 
"I'm a supergeek, supergeek...I'm supergeeky, yow..."

  posted by Gregory @ 9:31 AM



 
When I walked into school today, one of my classmates was hard at work stuffing folders with something. I'm naturally curious, so I asked what was going on; classmate informed me that a conference of a sort was going on tomorrow, and showed me one of the outlines of topics.

One was Logo, and I mentioned that I remember that from back in the fifth or sixth grade. (One of our teachers tried to teach a classful of students about Logo. Circles, triangles, what-have-you.)

I suddenly felt a little old.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:52 AM



 
After a significant amount of fudge-work with the school's web-based HORDE client, years of snowballing spam, and general irritation, I'm starting to get the impression I should get my own goddamn host and set up my own goddamn mail. The headaches of not directly dealing with your mail aren't worth it if you spend a large chunk of time wading through, waiting for, or wallowing in email.

I am tired. Despite four capsules of my homemade get-up-and-go stuff (ginseng, ginkgo leaf, eyebright and astragalus is a combination I came to after significant experimentation) and large amounts of caffeine, both through coffee and through Dew, I can feel my internal spring winding down. Of course, I lasted most of the day on...about four, maybe five hours of sleep, so it's not a total loss. If I can just stay up until ten or so, I will have won against sleep for the day.

Speaking of winning...I need to go kill some things.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:54 AM


13.3.02  

 
I don't think I have recommended the Axis enough. It needs at least that last link there.

Well, maybe one more.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:41 AM



 
Jack Valenti is larger than life as a Xerox Dataglyph!

  posted by Gregory @ 8:57 AM



 
I'm really hoping that Modern Tales isn't broken.


I realized a while back that there's two parts to any piece of information; there's the information itself, and an explanation of what it means. Swiss bank accounts (cliche alert) are just a sequence of numbers used as an ID. If I had one (maybe I do, you'd never know) and I posted the fifteen-digit sequence somewhere -- say, here -- who would know what it was?


People with Swiss bank accounts could guess, just by the number of digits. But they couldn't know, and if I hid it in even the most trivial fashion (steganography, if you're looking for a long word for it) nobody would ever realize that the key to all my finances was essentially public information.


This is an important distinction in a way, because it suggests that information is a really hard thing to keep clean. Why couldn't I build a porn server that distributed zipped porn hidden in a GIF file? I could. That's pretty simple. The trick -- as with anything done in secret but easily reversible -- is keeping it a secret, or making it hard to reverse. The second part is partly the purview of cryptography (another long word, but a much more widely known one). What if someone built a steganographic engine, something that could hide information in a systematic (but hard-to-notice) fashion across the web, through usenet posts, or with a series of freely constructed email accounts? Many of these servers will let anybody post, you just need access. This program would have some tried method for splitting/hiding/encrypting the information, and putting it where other copies could retrieve it.


I can hear you already: "This sounds like something a terrorist would use."


That's very, very true. For security reasons, this is a frightening possibility.


Another twist: What if you just built a program to locate specified patterns (even, say, patterns of innocuous words) and hid the message in -- let's say -- a free-hosted site that appeared to have nothing but textual information, or a few home snapshots on it?


The amount of information being thrown around every day produces interesting side effects, and one of them could be summed up thusly: Two Anonymous Persons Cannot Be Prevented From Communicating, Assuming They Are Careful And Intelligent.


And what does this mean?


You cannot prevent planning. It's impossible.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:48 AM



 
Exactly.

School, Perl, school, Perl, school, Perl. Eat. School, Perl, school, Perl. Sleep. Wake. School, Perl, school, Perl.

If you think that's repetitive over the course of a few sentences, trust me, it's much more repetitive when it describes 95% of your existence for over half a year. Don't get me wrong here -- I love Perl. I like school, too, even. But they're not everything I want to do.

I wanna be a rock star! I wanna be an astronaut!

I guess I have to start writing again to do those things, though. Being a rock star/Perl guru somehow strikes me as impossible or nearly so.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:15 AM



 
Apparently there's really such a thing as blog power.

I can't wait for the first reaction from Congress (no doubt in fifty years or so): "Congress Moves To Ban Blogging". Then, "Congress Moves To Ban Links In Blogs". Then, "Congress Moves To Ban Links To Other Blogs From Blogs", "Congress Moves To Ban Needless Links To Blogs From Other Blogs", and finally "Congress Creates Standard Need Ratings For Blog Linking".

"Have you now, or have you ever been, linking other people's blogs? Why? What made you do it? ANSWER ME!"

  posted by Gregory @ 7:34 AM



 
It just occurred to me that if everybody who ever took a drug illegally (alcohol included) showed up at the nearest police station and turned themselves in, there would be no way for the police to handle the situation at all. There simply wouldn't be enough of them.

What if it were only ten percent?

Such a thing could even be organized; what, would the law somehow pretend they didn't want to catch criminals? They couldn't do something like that for the sake of how it would look.

I admit it's crazy, but so is life. Crazier things have happened.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:53 AM


12.3.02  

 
My eyes are playing tricks on me. That's not always a pleasurable thing.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:41 AM



 
Sure, a pen and paper that send graphical emails using Bluetooth seems kind of useless, but what good is a baby? Give it time. Soon, people will be bug-sniffing pens. Imagine you're a reporter and you ship a little box of regular-looking ballpoint pens to a Congressperson's office. And imagine further that they contain an extension of this technology where the pen records everything, and the pen automatically sends those emails to a dummy account you set up, where the graphics are automagically translated into English and archived.

You would have passwords, phone numbers, secret communications and rendezvous points -- anything deemed 'too important to email'. Heh heh heh.

The real thing that will scare the corrupt parts of the government is not that people will be able to communicate. It will be that their privacy will be impossible. As technology moves ahead, the government can watch whoever they want, but they can be twice as sure that anybody can watch them too.

And, honestly, I don't care if the government does watch me. The things I have done illegally in my life stand as testaments to what I think is wrong about our current legal system: Underage drinking and a little drug use. The government should be much more concerned that its constituents will be watching it.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:37 PM


11.3.02  

 
I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: Apparently cocoa beans are harvested with slave labor in Africa. In short, that sucks.

The good news, though, is that boycotting chocolate won't do a damn bit of good, because it'll drive the cocoa market into the ground. The first casualties of any economy are the workers, not the managers/slavers, so that would really just introduce more beatings and hardship. Which means...BUY CHOCOLATE! EVERYONE! Get out there and BUY BUY BUY that chocolate! Make the industry so rich that it can afford to shake these fucks out! I mean, when there's oodles of money coming in, why wouldn't corporate interests want to clean up their industry? It looks good. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 8:26 PM



 
Y'know, I realize that nonhumans can be trained just like humans -- usually faster -- but it really surprised me to think of birds learning to use a crosswalk.


Dogs, I could see. They can't fly over. But birds?

  posted by Gregory @ 8:07 PM



 

It's not whether things are alive that matters to most people who care about animals. It's whether or not that particular living thing can suffer.


Okay, show of hands: Who here has read the Hitchhiker's series? Who remembers the cow at the End Of the Universe Restaurant, the one that liked being killed to be eaten? And, who remembers the amazing horror Arthur, our hero, experienced when he realized what had happened, why the cow liked it?

The point is not suffering. Here, I'll say it again. The point is not suffering. The point is deprivation of life. The point is that you're cutting something alive down before its time. I'm as much against it as someone with two thin New York Sirloin steaks in my fridge (and several pounds of textured vegetable protein in my pantry) can be, which is to say For, it seems. I kill plenty of shit, flora or fauna be damned. The point is to be mindful of what you're doing, not that the pretty cows don't get hurt.

This is reality. Things get hurt. It's nice if you can minimize it, but don't equate suffering with death! Does that mean that -- assuming a humane method of slaughter was used -- eating animals would somehow be more okay? No. It would be just as wrong because killing shit is wrong.

I realize that Douglas Adams's concept of a cow that liked to be killed seems somehow bizarre. Let's try this on for size: Genetic engineering will soon allow us to grow cows that have no brains. No brain, no pain, I guess. That makes it much better, right?

Sure.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:56 PM



 
My reaction to an article about social interaction at the HS level cannot be accurately described in words. The best I can do is describe a few of the immediate mental reactions I had and then describe the sensation my reaction provides.

Immediate Mental Reactions: "...fuck...fucking retarded...fuckers...stupid fuckers...stupid GOAT fuckers...stupid SOCIAL WHORE GOAT FUCKERS."

Best Description of Internal Sensations Resulting from Combined Mental Reactions: Imagine a Roto-Rooter tool swishing around in your internal organs, PLUS nausea, PLUS the feeling of a goat fucking you.

The notion that our (insert bitter laughter here) "best and brightest" are in a system that produces that stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID fucking social order as a result. This is essentially grooming people to be trophy spouses. Does the NEA even understand what it does any more? Does anybody?

  posted by Gregory @ 10:28 AM



 
Due to the inordinate mental deficiencies I have, I was unable to grasp the concept of a "pivot table" until it was way the hell too late, yesterdayish sometime. Then I realize precisely what


Omit #9...instead create the attached pivot table with the custom footer showing your name.

means. It means, literally, omit number nine. In my narrow sight, that just meant to do number nine and change the footer.

And yet, that is the reason I will be turning this exam in a weekend late. I want to hit myself with something, because I forgot Rule One of Life: If You've Got Directions, Read And Understand Them First. (They may not be any good -- anybody who read _Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance_ hopefully remembers the discussion concerning the way instructions are written, by the worst worker in the factory and a technical writer who's never seen the machine before -- but reading them anyway can only help as long as you read them understanding that they may well suck.)

  posted by Gregory @ 8:42 AM



 
It seems that Jessica Litman has put Chapter Two of her book _Digital Copyright_ online free of charge. Nice of the Professor. :)


As one might expect, to the extent that current legal rules make some parties "haves" and others "have-nots," the haves are fans of the current model, while today's have-nots suggest that some other model might be more appropriate for the future. Meanwhile, copyright lawyers, who, after all, make their livings interpreting and applying this long and complex body of counterintuitive, bewildering rules, insist that the current model is very close to the platonic ideal, and should under no circumstances be jettisoned in favor of some untried and untrue replacement.


Imagine a framework of rules, and then keep adding exception rules to it. Roughly, this is the concept of 'heuristics'. (Forgive my inaccuracy.) Copyright law -- as with all other law -- was created in exactly this fashion. In this sense, law is a live thing; when it can no longer operate within its environment, it is thrown out (laws repealed, or, in extreme cases, entire governments overthrown).

Is Litman correct, in thinking that copyright lobbyists are the problem? Or is it something more sinister -- perhaps that large media controls cannot exist much longer?

It's like trying to put rain back in the sky, this ludicrous attempt by Hollings to bully the tech industries into self-regulation. Either they'll make an end run -- we can all hope -- or else they'll just end up crippled and gone. Nobody wants to buy a machine that only works with AOL-approved media (unless they're truly mentally deficient), so why not purchase one from Algeria if it'll save someone several thousand dollars in inflated CD costs?

The true question is this, then: What prevents every relatively major technical company from just leaving this country if some stupid law or another is enacted?

Nothing. Microsoft won't have to look long for a country that allows them to do whatever the hell they want, and then what will happen? The U.S. government will backpedal furiously, trying to stimulate growth. This isn't the same as encryption controls, though; the application of this is huge. If the U.S. tech market is castrated, people won't buy from it. If the U.S. attempts to provide some sort of overseas content control, they will get screwed; people will move. It's cheaper to pay a few thousand bucks to get out and live somewhere that you don't have to buy CDs than it is to live here and buy CDs. That's how much CDs cost.

What do you have when a government runs out of people?

Oh, right. The Berlin Wall. I don't know about you, but I'm leaving first. Algeria, here I come!

  posted by Gregory @ 1:05 PM


10.3.02  

 
Got this in my mailbox fairly recently.


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After a decent amount of chagrin on my part (because they make it a little extra-difficult to get to your card), I was told that the card couldn't be displayed due to a TOS violation. Uh huh. (If that were true, why did I get the notice at all?) I don't buy it for a damn minute. This looks, smells, and tastes like spam, and until someone gives me a reason to believe otherwise (such as, say, one of the cowards at CardWish who won't put an admin email up on any of the pages there) that's what I'll call it.

Bad enough that Crushlink became such a stupid spam repository. Isn't anybody paying attention? This is the era of snake oil of the worst kind. People will pay to communicate, not to have to deal with horseshit like this. Why on earth would I want to do anything through CardWish when it's absolutely clear that it's nothing but address-collection?

Bastards.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:41 AM



 

What Flavour Are You? Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.Cor blimey, I taste like Tea.


I am a subtle flavour, quiet and polite, gentle, almost ambient. My presence in crowds will often go unnoticed. Best not to spill me on your clothes though, I can leave a nasty stain. What Flavour Are You?


I always knew it. Sure, I love coffee, but I'm more versatile than that. Tea has a long, rich tradition, can exist through stark ritual or through casual brewing, etc. The more I think about this flavor, the more I like it.

  posted by Gregory @ 6:04 AM



 
Wil Wheaton wrote an important article about file-sharing. Let this be a lesson to all of you who dismissed Wheaton as some mere wannabe writer; indeed, he shows in this article that he has his finger on the pulse of the modern slacker, or some crap like that. You know what I'm talking about.

Then again, I can see pink neon bunnies, too, so maybe you don't know what I mean at all.

  posted by Gregory @ 11:02 AM


9.3.02  

 
Y'know, Michael Moore has a blog at his site. If you're feeling even moderately American today, go check him the hell out.

I'm still debating internally as to whether or not it's possible for me to put this blog on my site. I keep telling myself that I should go check if FTP can somehow do SSH (doubtful). I counter back that the nice guy who gave me hosting doesn't want this crap there anyway, and probably doesn't appreciate that stupidly large JPG I left in my public directory a while back.

Enh. I kinda like it here anyway. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 10:51 AM



 
Well, it's official. I had hoped that, by ignoring the little tiny itchiness in the back of my throat, I could ward off the Mongolian Death Flu that the SOTF has. No such luck; I'm ill. Not Beastie Boys ill, either, as in an Ill Communication, just sick.

I'm starting to slide into the fever-dream stage, where all you want to do is lie down, but if you lie down you sleep, and if you sleep you dream strange things. Normally I can't remember any of my dreams, but fever dreams exist in this hazy borderland between sleep and waking time where I can remember them but they're hellaciously vivid. It's the closest thing to a hallucinogen I can come to (legally).

Fevers aren't all bad. ;) I wish my sinuses would clear, though. And I'm late on my Excel test. I don't know if I can even turn it in late, but I'm going to do it and try.

Always gotta try.

I should leave and get some DayQuil. The SOTF took the last and didn't tell me, the poophead.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:22 AM



 
I have a lot of strange little goals in life (I'd like to be the first person to build a livable structure out of bubble gum, for instance), and some are vaguer than others. One of my primary ones has always been, and I quote (my brain), "Be able to understand and manipulate chaotic systems imperceptible to the average human being." So an article about such a skill being detected, whether true or not, makes me a little happier, just because there's the faint possibility that I'm not completely bat shit gonzo full-tilt crazy, and that eventually I'll be (more) able to take advantage of chaos.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:49 PM


8.3.02  

 
I suppose I've bitched enough about important things (like murder and intellectual property theft and what-have-you) that an article about esoteric important things might not be totally unwelcome.

You know where MP3 fits in on your computer, right? It's what you play in Winamp, it's smaller than WAV files, it's near CD quality, etc. Okay. Now imagine a 2 cent cost per use.

Exactly.

Anyway, I don't know if making a compression protocol cost money is a good idea or a bad idea; I need to mull it.

HowEVER, I WILL be reviewing one of those Homestyle Bake things fairly soon here, because I have to go make one for dinner.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:34 PM



 
I have complained about how crappy the news is to enough people that occasionally I am told to seek an alternative. I have been told to look at the Guardian's website a few times, on the basis that it has less or even no "U.S. government influence".

And, as much as I like the Guardian's take on things, I really do prefer Rotten News. It's probably the least-biased news site possible.

Amidst the current crop of family killings (remarkably, deaths involved with incestuous families would seem to be on the rise worldwide; several cases have come up in the last few weeks), there is something intellectually depressing: The Library Of Congress stole some souvenirs from Leonard Peikoff. I always had a good opinion of the LOC, and on the whole they seem to be a good thing, but a little more of that (or if there were some evidence of the kind of media-juggling that went on in _Wag The Dog_) and their name could be tarnished forever within my mind, transferred to the 'Bloody Wankers' list.

Do I really need to go over the whole Disney thing again?

Parody, however, is not always a successful defense. In the early 1970s, an underground comic book publisher was successfully sued for representing Walt Disney Co.'s Mickey Mouse as a gun-toting, drug-running airplane pilot. A judge in that case found the magazine infringed Disney's copyrights, and ordered all existing copies of the magazine impounded and destroyed.


An article about Barney lawsuits gave further information about precedents of parody protection, such as the above snippet. The EFF isn't scared of them, though. Good for the EFF. I need to send a charitable contribution to those folks once I manage to pay my rent this month. Funny how anything else is free game, but Disney trademarks can't be infringed, parodized, or even talked about, huh?

Perhaps that's unfair -- maybe the fact it was some time back has some bearing on it. Clearly, this is a topic for research.

  posted by Gregory @ 4:00 PM


7.3.02  

 
Reader Mail Corner

wow, for someone who is afraid of going to bars and run into people talking about politics, you sure write a lot about politics.

Mainly I just dislike it when people disagree with me. ;P

  posted by Gregory @ 1:01 PM



 
I will say one thing about my 281 Discrete Mathematical Structures class: If I pull a 75 on a test, I know it took work. These are no fluff pieces; these are tests that test you.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:46 AM



 
I have no idea how I'm going to attempt to get some more friends. I still have a few, but I was originally hanging out with them because we all played a card game together. As I haven't played it in six months, I haven't spoken with them much. My best friend from HS is currently serving a term in prison, so it's not his fault we can't go shoot pool or watch a movie together.

It's not his fault (well, okay, it is, but that's a long damn story) that he can't hang with me any more than it's their fault I don't really play Magic any more (although I'm considering doing it this weekend, just for shits and giggles). I need to find some more friends, and unfortunately I don't know how to go about it.

It's not that I'm unsociable; I can talk to just about anybody, and before my memory decided it was going somewhere without me, I could talk about almost anything, too. At great fucking length for way the fuck too long. Trust me here.

Anyway, it's just not something I've ever really done, managed to hold on to some friends without a wealth of common interest. (Except for my fiancee, and although we didn't work together or play anything together, we had enough little common interests, like bowling and pizza, that sort of add up to a largish common interest. We cohabitate fairly well, too.) Most of my friends have come from work, school, or both.

So how do you make friends in an unfriendly and (mostly) unintelligent place? Going to a bar is not an option here, most of the time, because it's either utter social whores, people who MUST TALK ABOUT POLITICS NOW, or else people who like drinking beer and watching NASCAR.

(I have no problem with NASCAR itself, thank you; my issue is with the wrestling-fan crossover. Come on, give me nasty emails about how wrestling kicks ass, go ahead, I dare ya! The one with the most foul expletives will be published...uh, here. This is really the only place I can publish things.)

Anyway. I'm thinking of


  • Hanging around the local net-cafe, hoping programmer types will see me and accept me into the pack;
  • Hanging around Borders incessantly (I had someone give me their email address this way once, but I promptly lost it);
  • Hanging around my house like a total schmuck.


Guess which one's most likely?



  posted by Gregory @ 3:16 PM


6.3.02  

 
God, it's so fucking seductive.

Or maybe it isn't to you. All I know is that, somehow, online interaction seems to be what I'm suited too. It's so damn easy for me, and I know for a fact it's hard for some people.

I'm being vague here because I have only the vaguest sense of this, but it's there, all right. The way my hand feels (both the twinges of carpal tunnel syndrome and the amazing flexibility my hand has now), the speed I tend to read at, the way I tend to spit out whole sentences instead of fragments.

It creeps me out in a way -- this is a method of communication that hasn't really existed all that long, and I have unwittingly made it the only form I engage in. I just kind of realized the other day that I don't talk to people on the phone, I don't see any friends I had r/l at all. All the ones I did have I just kind of lost track of.

It's so damn weird sometimes.

Yet it feels better in a way; a way I can't quite describe. Somehow it feels more productive to know my conversations are going into logs instead of vanishing into the air. I suspect eventually I will keep cams in all the rooms of my home, just to keep track of what's happened to me during the day. If I get really weird (or really forgetful) I may end up summarizing them at the end of the day.

How sad would that be? ;)

  posted by Gregory @ 1:48 PM



 
I started a dumb new blog, one about writing and my inability to properly do it hardly at all any more.

Oh well.

I have work I gotta do; a test and try to get some script work done. I don't even want to start on the script stuff; if you care, go there and read. Roughly the first 2/3 of that journal is about that frigging script.

I need coffee...

  posted by Gregory @ 8:12 AM



 
I gotta admit that I feel depressed sometimes about the state of intellectual property law, and the ease with which a well-moneyed legal combatant can silence his poorly-funded enemies. I debate, internally, about whether or not this is the fault of the legal system or merely the fault of monolithic institutions.

But having read Groucho Marx's letter to Warner Brothers, and knowing that _A Night In Casablanca_ came out, makes me feel a lot better.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:52 AM



 
Fuck. Ing. Hell.

Tycho and Gabe are getting hate mail. Unsurprisingly, some morons are attempting to defend yet another attempt to destroy free software.

I keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter now; that this is going to be like the problems with VCRs in ten years; but I can't keep telling myself that, it's simply not true.

(sexual-act) Blizzard. (That's one for the lawyers, folks. What an awful thing to censor your own free speech because you're paranoid that a company will come a-gunnin' for you.)

As if anybody reads this thing anyways... :P

  posted by Gregory @ 5:36 AM



 
I almost wish that technology groups hadn't done anything and let the government go ahead and make its anti-piracy system.

I remember Clipper. Do you? Boy. Imagine the hullabaloo the government would get in if they promised a working, secure anti-piracy system to large media and then some MIT wannabe ripped it a new one in less than a month.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:32 PM


3.3.02  

 
Wipe away your tears, Jack Valenti

The best notes occur to me after the fact.

It's not that people can now get things illegally; that has been the situation for as long as there has been content. The difference now is that people can obtain illegal copies of something almost as easily as a legal copy. Monopolies are something the government says it abhors; yet, oligopolies are apparently quite palatable. Several media giants came to the government and whined that they couldn't fix their own damn problem (that they've been screwing consumers for years and people have found a way to not be screwed), and the government comforted said media giants.

I guess even media giants cry sometimes.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:27 PM



 
Sen. Fritz Hollings told electronics companies and copyright holders Thursday that if they can't agree on a solution to digital piracy, the government will.

A choice quote here.

"Almost no legal high-quality content (is) available on the Internet" because companies can't agree on one open standard for providing anti-copying features, Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina, said in his statement to the committee.

Wrong. Completely wrong. Absolutely so wrong it's not funny. I don't know where to begin here.


  1. 'legal' Wrong. Free source is completely legal. Fritz Hollings means content that can have money made off it. If they can't make money off it, please, feel free to get their fucking ass off the internet. I could care less whether Disney spends its free time making an extra half billion dollars on the net. It's not Congress's job to apply leverage on the tech sector for the sake of huge stupid media conglomerates.
  2. 'high-quality' Again, wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. High quality is a subjective term, and what the esteemed elderly Hollings thinks is high quality is (most likely) not what I think is high quality.
  3. 'because companies can't agree on one open standard for providing anti-copying features' It's not as if companies have been sitting around having a pissing match over this problem; they're working on it. They just haven't come up with a solution yet.

Several companies are working on media-control software; software that lets you view a document but with varying security concerning editing functions. It has many interesting features; it prevents certain actions at the OS level, or so it says.

Now, I have a good question. If this thing shuts down your ability to copy and edit, does it shut down your ability to type? No? Then those who are not technically unable will open Notepad and type it themselves.

"But that wouldn't work for a whole BOOK!!"

Nope. You'd need to point a video feed at the screen (that is, turn your webcam around) and feed it into a piece of software that a fairly experienced programmer could write within a week. It would feed you back the whole document.

"Then they'd turn off cameras while you read the document! And other programs!"

Which makes research using said text document pointless. The only reason to get information -- book, video, or otherwise -- is to use that information in some fashion.

The problem here is not that people are using things. People have been reproducing information for ages. "If it's one source, it's plagiarism; if it's three sources, it's research." The problem is that now there is an unprecedented ability to copy, coupled within the same device as an unprecedented ability to transmit.

I'll explain.

Before the net, if you had a movie and a lack of scruples (or some sort of grudge against the movie industry, or a lack of money) and your friend asked you to give him a copy, you could. You put the tape in you VCR, you hooked up your other VCR, you hit play, record, you waited, blah blah blah...and, with the cost of a tape, a few hours, a second VCR, and the time it takes to physically bring said tape to your friend somehow, you had done it.

At this time, it is possible to produce one copy of a DVD movie that you can send out multiple times without having to copy it again (rip it once), you send it while you do something else (minimizing the effect of transit) and all you need is your computer. Computer cost a lot more than a VCR, but computer can do a lot more than a VCR.

So before where you had labor and time interfering in the transit of pirated materials, now you don't.

You also don't have labor and time interfering in a few thousand other things, such as making your own little movies, making your own little songs, writing your own books. There is no way to separate these actions, because they are based on content, not on piracy. The fact that you can do research -- exercising a publisher-given right -- means that you can also copy in some fashion.

The problem here is not the fact that people distribute stuff. That, unless severe changes take place in technology laws sometime soon, is just how things are now. (More on that later.) The problem here is that the publishing industry operates on a model based on paper publishing, and paper publishing is no longer how most things are transmitted.

When publishing companies originated, print media was the entirety of publishing. The system solidified only taking this into account.

Now, enormous "media" blobs exist. They're understandably worried about their content, mainly because they're losing money. Wait, no, they're not. They're breaking even...wait, wait, they're making more money than ever before. Their complaint is not one of current problems; their complaint is one of possible problems.

They're very, very right to complain. They should be worried -- not because somehow 'piracy' will destroy their empire. Because the fact that people can publish for themselves will destroy their empire.

And this bill -- believe it or not -- would stomp that into the ground, slowly but surely.

There are a lot of problems inherent with the national ID card idea, but one of the main ones revolves around the notion that if it exists, and some law-abiding person chooses not to have one, even though it is optional, they will be looked upon with suspicion. Eventually, because signing up for things takes ID of some form, they will have serious difficulty gaining things so simple as a gym membership or a library card.

So follow me on a similar thread. Plenty of people build their own computers now. What's going to happen to the vaunted anti-piracy system if people can still build their own hardware?

It'll fail. Right.

So in order to maintain said anti-piracy system, the government would be forced to either regulate hardware (bizarre but entirely within the realm of possibility) -- or else there would have to be some sort of way for the anti-piracy system to prevent you from looking at content from a non-anti-privacy system.

Either way, this is bad. In the former, you end up with government-regulated computers everywhere (and while they may try, the government builds things too expensively, too stupidly, and too bureaucratically to produce useful hardware), and in the latter, you end up with a fragmented net, where people within America cannot communicate properly with everyone else in the world.

Oh? Global effects, you ask? Does anybody remember what the crypto export situation looks like? Imagine that for computer hardware. Manufacturers would have to either produce models that all contained crippled components, produce one model for the global market and one for the American market, or else pick a market and stick with it. America vs. the rest of the world is a hard choice, but why make manufacturers make it in the first place?

Oh, right, I forgot. Because the technical industry is in a slump and doesn't have the lobbying power that, say, Time-Warner has. Fancy that.

I'd like to assume -- because I prefer to assume the best about people -- that Senator Hollings is genuinely unaware of how deranged and abusive this one simple thing could be in the long run. I'd like to assume he merely doesn't know. It would be wrong to assume, without any proof, that he is a paid mouthpiece for the media; that would be unfair.

A more cynical person could make that assumption.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:10 PM



 
...I was reading an article specifically about John Carmack, and it occurred to me when some reference was made to using game tools to make movies.

Of course, my mind said to me. If you built a movie set in a game world, your set could be any damn thing you wanted, sound stage or no. Your actors could look like anything without being good-looking or even without being actors; bots could play bit parts and a telemetry method could provide simple movements. A movie like _Spirits Within_ could be built, only good.

I think there's a few stories in that.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:21 AM


2.3.02  

 

Which Firearm are you?
brought to you byStan Ryker



Neat. I always wanted to be a sniper rifle. :)

  posted by Gregory @ 11:54 PM


1.3.02  

 
An interesting article about content, communication, and the future of the industry I love.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:47 PM



 
Okay...perhaps it's not unconstitutional. But it certainly invites abuses.

  posted by Gregory @ 2:22 PM



 
Oh, and did I mention that it's not just stupid, it's psychotically unconstitutional and horridly prone to abuse?

Tell everyone you know. Tell everyTHING you know. Hell, make travel plans and move the hell out of the United States if it happens.

I wonder what kind of travel package discount you could get if the whole ACLU membership wanted to leave the country?

  posted by Gregory @ 11:29 AM



 
Welcome to the WORLD WIDE WEB, ladies and gentlemen, the GREATEST INFORMATION EXCHANGE ON EARTH!

THRILL as one of U2's members attempts to backpedal quickly concerning stupid shit his record label did!

Be CHILLED TO THE BONE as Microsoft prepares for the Final Software Solution!

GAPE in horror and wonder, as police autopsy photos are passed around like hors d'oeuvres!

HOPE that Senator Hollings isn't a paid lackey of the industry as he attempts to make horribly corrupt copyright legislation!

I wonder what's going to happen to the political system when all the people who were voting die. As unfit specimens of humanity, surely the path for those who believe in political machinations must be death; therefore, one day, there will be an election...and NOBODY will show up to vote.

What will the political system -- which DESPERATELY needs the illusion that it is chosen by a representative sample -- do?

Of course: They will make voting mandatory for U.S. citizens. If it wouldn't get them all kicked the hell out of office, they'd have done it already. It would look good.

And that's really the concern in politics, right? Looking good, and getting what you want. Like all these damn shallow fucks trotting around with their Nokias and their tanning-salon, stretched-face-makeup looks. Those stupid fucks that weasel their way into every job they've ever had for two weeks, make quadruple their true value for doing nothing all year...

...maybe the political system will never die. Now that is scary.

  posted by Gregory @ 9:07 AM



 
Mmmmh. (That's the noise when I get up having slept a little too much (seven hours or so), haven't had any coffee yet, and I've got a bunch of shit to do.)

*sip of coffee*

Ahhhh. (That's the noise I always make sipping coffee. :) )

An old friend of mine, Danica (hi Danica!) posted recently that she's starting to play around with emulators. Emulators kick ass in ways you cannot imagine (unless you too are an emulator user/abuser), despite the reluctance of one Gabriel to see that light. Right along with emulators is Abandonware, which is...well, it's a long story. Home Of The Underdogs says it better than I can. Suffice to say that it provides many flavorous ways to indulge your nostalgic gaming habit.

I happened upon some of the Blogger top-blogs and (being a quiz whore myself) found myself taking some of quizzes mentioned in this hyah blog.




What is your meaning of life?


I reformatted the following a little. I advise the author, should he read this, to not sue me. Please?


Are You A Blogaholic? Results
Your Score: 68 / 100

YOUR SCORE
68.0% 68.0 points out of 100

AVG SCORE
46.8% 46.8 points out of 100

1956 people have taken this silly test so far.
187 people have scored higher than you.
1702 people have scored lower than you.
67 people made the same grade as you.

What does this mean?
68 points is in the 51 through 80 precent
You are a dedicated weblogger. You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot,
yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!


I have a social life? Where? Where do I keep it, and who's got the key?

Well, I guess IRC counts for some form of social interaction.

(chaoticset) Bruce 'Jesus Christ' Campbell?
(Dancing_Hula_Girl) yes
(tate) He came through with his Book Signing
(tate) But I had to fucking work.
(chaoticset) One of the nearly-head manager types at the local EB sounds EXACTLY like Bruce Campbell to me
(Dancing_Hula_Girl) showed the evil dead trilogy and signed his book
(tate) Stupid fucking Radio Shack...
(chaoticset) I keep asking him to do the screwheads line...
(chaoticset) ...that's why I can't go back to EB any more. :(


  posted by Gregory @ 6:36 AM


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