Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Light blogging this week; I'm at the AIAA infotech@aerospace conference in Washington DC all week. Here's the kicker -- the conference is in the Hyatt Regency Crystal City and the hotel doesn't offer high-speed internet in its rooms. What kind of a world do we live here? Are we still in the stone age? I'm in the hotel lobby for crying out loud. I have to come downstairs to check my email -- its so humiliating.

Anyway, other things I hate about this hotel:

There are no refigerators in the rooms -- this means that I'm continually making runs to the ice machine to keep my 2-liters of Dr. Pepper cold. What kind of a cheap, dive am I staying in here.? Caffeine addicts of the world, Unite!

The pool and the jacuzzi are closed. What's the point of having a pool if its permanently closed? Its in the 90's outside, but I can't take a dip because the hotel is too cheap to maintain a freakin' pool? unbelievable.

My room telephone doesn't function: there's no sound coming out of the speaker when people call, and the speaker-phone set-up doesn't work.

The hotel is out beyond freaking egypt, its almost a mile from the metro station. Lousy, lousy location -- the marriott is so much better situated. Should've stayed there, they probably offer high-speed internet in their rooms and have a real pool.

Hyatt Sucks!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Finally, someone is talking sense!

Heritage Policy Blog: "McCain Says Ditch Prescription Drug Benefit. Sen. John McCain said today that with the cost of recovery from Hurricane Katrina estimated to be in the neighborhood of $200 billion, the Medicare prescription drug benefit should be canceled. "
Do we really need more wealth transfer to the elderly?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Heaven forbid the internet become a public library!

Authors Guild sues Google over library project | CNET "The Authors Guild on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against search engine Google, alleging that its scanning and digitizing of library books constitutes a 'massive' copyright infringement."

Does anyone else think this is insane?

Media Companies, Not Pirates, Are The Real Threat > September 15, 2005

InformationWeek > September 15, 2005: "AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — When you hear 'content owners' (COWs, for short) from the Video Entertainment Vortex — mainly Hollywood studios and their spokespeople in the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) — talk apocalyptically about the rape of intellectual property by 'pirates,' the world does truly appear to be coming to an end. The fear factor in these warnings is so palpable that one looks for the hand of Stephen King — perhaps an Internet/ABC/Viacom simulcast entitled, 'The Night of the Mind Cannibals!'

Video piracy, in the standard scenario presented by big-time COWs, is the profoundest threat to mankind — or at least mankind’s potential profit margin on re-releases of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' — since the Black Death, the H-Bomb or killer hurricances.

The latest weapon promoted by the world's COWs against the threat of video piracy — which rips off Hollywood at something like .0175 percent of its (admitted) annual revenue — is something called the 'broadcast flag.' The Federal Communications Commission was planning to insinuate this copy-protection software into all new broadcast content until a federal court this year said they lacked jurisdiction. This ruling has only redoubled COW efforts to enlist regulatory agencies in its sacred mission of squeezing every quarter 'til the eagle grins."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hollywood is Brain Dead ...

Freedom to Tinker:

"Which brings us to the movie industry’s announcement, yesterday, that they will set up “MovieLabs”, a $30 million research effort to develop effective anti-copying technologies. The only sensible explanation for this move is that Hollywood really believes that there are easily-discovered anti-copying technologies that the technology industry has failed to find.

So Hollywood is still in denial about digital copying.

The pressure will be on MovieLabs to find strong anti-copying technologies, because a failure by MovieLabs can’t be blamed on the tech industry. Failure will show, instead, that stopping digital copying is much harder than Hollywood thought. And MovieLabs will fail.

When MovieLabs fails, expect the spinners to emerge again, telling us that MovieLabs has a great technology that it can’t tell us about, or that there’s a great technology that isn’t quite finished, or that the goal all along was not to stop P2P copying but only to reduce some narrow, insignificant form of copying. Expect, most of all, that MovieLabs will go to almost any length to avoid independent evaluation of its technologies.

This is a chance for Hollywood to learn what the rest of us already know — that cheap and easy copying is an unavoidable side-effect of the digital age"

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush: Champion of the Welfare State !?

The White House communications team scrambled this morning to explain how President George Bush accidentally delivered a rejected draft speech in New Orleans last night on national TV.

White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said he still does not know how the text of an address he had personally rejected as "too DNC" wound up in the president's hands last night.

Many Republicans reacted in shock as all of America heard Mr. Bush promising a series of federal interventions and taxpayer-cash infusions
Technorati tags:

To any republicans who saw Bush's travesty of a speech -- this is the kind of welfare-state mentality we would have gotten if Kerry had won. I'm becoming sorry I voted for this big-government wolf in sheep's clothing.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

My son Will, yesterday walked across the room for the first time. Good on him!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Believe it or don't:

Via "THIS IS SURELY THE DUMBEST STATEMENT OF THE WEEK, which is no small accomplishment given that the Roberts hearings are underway:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an 'ongoing victory,' and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Don't encourage Irresponsibility

The Becker-Posner Blog:

"Just because a person loses his house in a flood that destroys hundreds of thousands of other houses, rather than in a fire that destroys just his house, is no reason for the taxpayer to reimburse him for the loss. The fact that most people do not buy flood insurance, just like the fact that most Californians don't buy earthquake insurance, is no reason for me to insure them."
Read the whole thing.

I'm down with his whole argument. I'm looking at the 60+ billion that our lovely congress is pissing away, and I'm thinking -- where is all that money going?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Need Humor?

Check out Scrappleface -- Scott had me in stitches:

Allegations of widespread fraud in unmonitored polling places threatened to mar the credibility of Egypt's sham presidential election today which pitted four-term President Hosni Mubarak against nine opponents whose actual names will be revealed to the public after the polls close.

As the Muslim nation's first contested presidential election charade wound to a close, opposition parties claimed that widespread voter intimidation tarnished the otherwise pre-engineered outcome.

"We had hoped that this phony election would continue Egypt's progress toward genuine artificial democracy," said one unnamed Mubarak opponent who opted for anonymity rather than imprisonment, "This sets a horrible precedent for other Arab nations who have taken the first, tentative steps toward the pretense of freedom."

Increasingly Extreme Weather?


Just hype by the media trying to push an extremist environmental agenda. This chart from the Commons blog shows that total fatalities as well as death rates due to "weather-related extreme events" are on century-old down trend. Thanks to our technology and economic growth, we're better protected than ever from the vissitudes of Mother Nature.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

You can't have fun when other people are suffering

Or at least that's the subtext from notorious pervert Xeni Jardin's (of Boing Boing fame) post: a photo collage of Bush playing guitar on the one half with desperate refugees on the other.

OK, so I guess we're not allowed to enjoy music or laugh or get photographed enjoying ourselves during times of natural disaster. I'm wondering if maybe someone has a picture of Xeni laughing during the time immediately after hurricane Katerina -- then I could make photocollage showing what an awful person she is by superimposing her gaiety on scenes of human suffering.

This kind of cheap-shot journalism destroys Xeni's credibility as an honest voice in the coming digital age.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Welfare State Mentality

I'm on board with the following sentiment:

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

From here.

File-sharing is speech

I was reading Eugene Volokh's paper and was struck once again by the vile, horrific, stinking cess-pool that is America's current copyright law.
He considers the value and limits of crime-facilitating speech, and how the first amendment protection of speech should be weighed against the possibility that some speech might enable criminal activity.
Basically the fact that I can't post an mp3 of the song I'm listening to right now, to this blog, drives me crazy. If file-sharing is anything, its speech; the exhanging of data -- simple pure communication. But in America in 2005 its not free speech, its speech controlled by the record companies and the movie studios and Micro$oft.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New Blog

My sister has a new blog over at Bon Mots, go check it out!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Legalize Drugs

One of the after effects of frequenting libertarian websites is that it gets you thinking about their policies and views and eventually their arguments begin to subconsciously sink in. I've been mulling over the whole drug legalization issue for awhile now, ever since there was a lively discussion on the topic at Left2Right in the comments on this post.
As the notion of drug legalization has fermented in my brain, the central question mutated into the following:
What gives the federal government the right to decide what I put in my body?

I can't seem to find a good answer. At first I thought to myself: "Well, taking mind-altering drugs can endanger other people; imagine your kids' bus driver hopped up on pot or crystal or cocaine..." Except then I realized that the crime there can be addressed directly via legislation exactly like we've done for drunk driving. It isn't necessary to outlaw alcohol to legislate against the abuse of alcohol that endangers others.
This was brought home to me especially poignantly by the illegalization of ephedrine -- an herb that I've frequently used as a body building aid in the past and which has been scientifically proven to be safe -- here, the feds butted into my personal life and dictated what I could (or rather, could not) put in my body. How dare they? Where in the constitution did we give congress the right to control the most basic element of our lives; our alimentation?

More to come.

Hacking Satellite TV

Until last month many of the world's satellite tv companies relied on a cryptosysem called Nagravision. It has been broken for years, so recently DishNetwork sent all of its customers new access cards for their recievers. These access cards contained new circuits capable of decoding a new and (supposedly) more secure encryption system called Nagravision2.

Several days ago a group of European hackers broke Nagravision2, and many of my friends across the world are now viewing all of DishNetworks' programming (including PPV movies, premium sports channels, etc.) for free.

I believe DishNetwork underestimated the inherent security difficulties in giving millions of its customers the cryptographic key (or rather a method to get the key via their access cards) and simultaneously expecting that their enemies would be unable to reverse engineer said key.

Anyway, Nagra2 is wide open for anyone who is interested. Go to mauisun's bulletin board for more information on this fiasco.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Christian Service or Feel-good make-work?

So, the men at my church are planning a relief expedition to Gulf Port Mississippi; leaving 4:30am on Saturday, coming home Monday afternoon. This puts me in a lousy situation because, obviously, I really don't want to spend my entire Labor Day weekend without A/C, sleeping in a smelly hot church on the floor and hauling debris away from homes while standing in Typhoid and snake-infested water; yet if I don't go I'll look like an uncaring prick who selfishly values my own time and comfort over the desperate need of my fellowman. Yeah, I guess that's pretty spot-on. Truth hurts, am I right?

Unfortunately, they're still planning on having church on Sunday. This means that if I don't go do this bit of service then I get to see all the ladies at church and explain why I'm not in Mississippi doing Christian service with all the other men in the church.

The answer came to me just now: skip church and run the table so to speak. If I'm hell-bound this week end, why not go whole hog?

Seriously though, I'm going to cut a check to charity to cover the miniscule amount of help I would be able to render if I were to go there over the weekend. Honestly, I'm not into suffering for the sake of suffering. If my own discomfort were able to substantially and uniquely improve the lot of the folks in the wake of the storm, then I'd be happy to help. I spent a weekend doing service right after Ivan, and all I can say is ... if we'd each pitched in 40 bucks we could have hired professional to do what we did in a quarter of the time.

Macrovision tries to ruin P2P

So it looks like Macrovision is trying to make a buck off of the file-sharing phenomenon, by charging "artists" a fee to spoof the p2p networks. They insert bogus or non-functional files at many central nodes in the hope that people looking for content will download the bogus stuff. Read the whole thing. The article [via Tom's Hardware Guide] concludes:
While Macrovision attempts to stop piracy ... they admit that it may be an impossible goal to achieve as P2P networks adapt and change. According to Dalke, Hawkeye works well against most of the major P2P networks including EDonkey and FastTrack. But full protection against Bittorrent has not been achieved yet.
That's right, because if someone seeds a bogus file on bittorrent the peeps who download it will leave a comment indicating that its crap. Thus bittorrent self-regulates against this kind of attack.