Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Hey, I'm not an A**hole, I'm an NFL Owner, Damn It! And no, I'm not Familiar with the Word "Synonym"

On days like yesterday, I marvel at the cognitive dissonance that must be necessary for some people to maintain sanity, and a pulse. To wit, please view, if you would be so kind, Exhibit 1: NFL owners.
Why is it that a group of billionaires gets a legalized monopoly on its football markets, then has the chutzpah to black out broadcasts when their crappy teams don't sell out games due to bad personnel decisions made by those same owners? The blackouts even apply if you pay for a premium service like NFL Sunday Ticket. For any other product, without handouts like free stadiums and monopoly pricing power, the lack of sales would send an important message, but for NFL owners, there is simply reinforcement that they are super-duper-smart-and-awesome-business-jerks.
And for that, I'd like to help with a simple cognitive revision: you're not super-smart, you're just assholes.
You're welcome.
PS The Chargers finally have the right coach, but the damage done by Norv Turner is not corrected overnight. Then again, the Chargers had the right coach about eight years ago, so it's still a guessing game about Spanos's ability to assess anything related to sports. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he fired McCoy after this season, due to idiocy. And yes, the extra "s" was intentional--look in the newest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style if you're confused.

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Open Letter to the Waiters, Waitresses, and Sommeliers of the World

Dear Wine Servers/Experts,

The word meritage, in reference to wine anyway, is pronounced to rhyme with heritage, not garage.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. You may now continue with your plans for the coming armageddon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

RIVERSIDE: Fire hydrant decorated as movie minion

One more reason to love the WorldWide Web. Even if some periodical refuses to print my letter to the editor, I can just publish it here. Case in point: this sorry-ass excuse for minion-making that was reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

I think we can all agree that this looks more like a "crazy chicken" or a badly abused friar in blue. 

The following is my previously unpublished letter to the Press-Enterprise, as well as the photos that I attached.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chicks Banging Drums

Not a euphemism. And no, there's no missing 'mer' in the title. These are two of my favorite videos featuring female drummers. Interestingly enough, both are covers, though the styles are distinctly different, but I find both of them to be excellent.

With no further ado, and for your consideration, I present Meytal Cohen (covering "Metalingus" by Alter Bridge), and Scarlett Stevens (covering Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" as a member of San Cisco): 

[Editorial Note: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation requires that you click the link and watch the following video at the YouTube site, for some silly reason. It's not a dead link—just so you know.]

* * *

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I've Always Wondered if this Ever Happens in Real Life

I guess so.

San Bernardino Man Killed by Gun in his Waistband

Welcome to the Second Great Depression, a Comedy in Three Parts—Part I, Reality v Fiction, or How Laziness is Destroying our Minds

Occasionally, I'm forced to slam people's barely functioning brains into the plate glass window that I like to call reality. It's not something I want to do, or particularly enjoy, but as Dave Grohl famously sang, "This is a call."

What often comes of such action is the accusation that I'm somehow a pessimist, mostly because I'm not willing to let a feel-good story get in the way of facts and critical reasoning. Or perhaps because I'm unwilling to let others, often with suspect motives, do my thinking for me, spoon-feeding questionable facts as truth. Or finally, it may be because I have so little respect for established "authorities" that I'm always skeptical of information, regardless of its supposed source.

I fail to see how any of that is pessimistic. I'd rather be skeptical than a sycophant for supposed authorities who render truth on high, blind to their motives, which often run counter to those of the public at large.

Bear with me, if you will—this play will ultimately come back 'round to its opening scene (but not until Part III).

More after the jump.

Uh Oh, More Minions

What's that expression? A picture is worth a thousand words?

A Video No Right-Thinking Educator or Establishment Politico Wants Your Children To See

"Jimmy Iovine" is the more musically topical choice, but this one has a better beat and a better overall flow. It also reminds me, quite often, of Nelly's "Greed, Hate, Envy." Though it sounds like the songs have a similar message, they are almost opposites, owing, presumably, to different backgrounds and experiences. 

* * *

Anonymous, Redux

Yes, I know, you were cheated when you got no info about Anonymous in a previous post. To right this wrong, I submit this, gentle reader:



More Minions, More Minions!!!

Hey, it's not our fault that the municipality decided to use the colors yellow and purple for its irrigation covers. Coincidence? Well, as a senile old judge in San Diego County, on the verge of departing this mortal coil due to severe overstaying-his-welcome-ness and simply being old as a prehistoric rock, once told me, there's no such thing as coincidence. So there—that proves it once and for all. What? Pics? Oh, that's right—here you go (even more of them after the jump):

I Wish I Had Come Up With This

Not really, this is completely boring. But I do wish sometimes that my name were Van; that would be rather cool. Or that I had come up with the website Instead, I just have the site Oh well.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Somewhere, a Tree (a willow, I suppose) Weeps for Its Fallen Brethren, Senselessly Sent to Woodchippers in the Pursuit of Targeted Consumer Loyalty Marketing by CVS/pharmacy

Hey, I'm no tree hugger, but this is going way too far.

Not only that, CVS, but I do not appreciate the $3.50 like-cash coupon that's included. That is because I realize you previously overpriced my purchases by that amount, in order to now give me a coupon.

Be like Albertsons--do away with the loyalty program, and offer the most competitive prices you can. Your targeted marketing sucks anyway; I rarely buy, or would even consider, the products for which you've given me coupons.

The evidence: 

At right, the receipt. At left, the carnage that is added.

And lest you think this is an isolated incident, behold el ditto maximus:

* * *

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Steve Ballmer RIP

Just a little sumpin' sumpin' in memory of Steve Ballmer and his visionary leadership. I just wish I had a video of him when he's super mad. I bet he breaks a lot of stuff—even here, he looks like a vein on his head might explode at any second. [Two additional Ballmer classic videos after the jump.]


You're right, no one will pay $500 for a phone. Oh, wait...

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Music Review - Kut U Up

* * *

Spiritus in Machina

Acxiom is a data-mining company headquartered in Little Rock, AR. It's also really hard to pronounce (I'm guessing, as I've never actually heard someone say the name) and spell (so much so that it is misspelled as "Axciom" by such luminaries as ZDNet and The Huffington Post). I believe Acxiom prefers to be called a targeted marketing and planning company, or something like that. None of that is particularly relevant to this post, however; please review the following from Acxiom's website:

Last time I checked, the US population was slightly north of 315 million persons (US Census Bureau). Which begs the question, what exactly is Acxiom counting?  It occurred to me that perhaps the 500 million included all the people who have died and been born since Acxiom started keeping records in 1969, going by the name Demographics.  Since that time, approximately 96.3 million US souls have departed this mortal coil, based on CDC info and extrapolating for the last two years (US CDC WONDER Database). The current population already includes new births (as well as anyone born prior to 1969 who is still alive today), so we get to 411.3 million potential US consumers. Something is amiss, I think. My theories:
  • Acxiom has multiple instances of the same people, so they have a higher raw count than the actual number of people who exist
  • They are rounding up—badly
  • You know those duplicate songs, pictures and other files you have on your computer? Acxiom has that problem, too
  • Pets have been added to the database
  • Imaginary friends are included in the database
  • Someone forgot to Google "US population 2013," so instead just guessed from memory
  • The immediately preceding person's education was subpar, was hampered by excessive use of mind-altering substances, or both
  • Spiritus in Machina

* * *

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Avoid Mass Carnage in Manmade Circles

My Dear Fellow Americans,

No, you are not hallucinating--that is a roundabout in a suburban American city. By the way, since it was only my incredible ninja driving skills that saved me from crushing the back of your van like a used up PBR can: no, you do NOT yield for other cars to enter the roundabout.

Thank you for your consideration. But not for being over-polite. That will definitely get someone killed someday.

That is all. Good day.

* * *

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Slippery Slope of Losing Freedom

"I don't need to worry, I haven't done anything wrong" works fine until the storm troopers show up at your door and haul you away for planting marigolds, being a methodist, or liking "the rock music." This slippery slope has existed since before the Crusades, and it's at the core of destroying individual freedom. 

You're right, though, you haven't done anything wrong—until someone in charge decides that you have.   

* * *

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Continuing Crisis, Continued...

Photo copyright

Apparently, this principal in a NY intermediate (middle) school went on some crazy rant about blowing up the school, because he was mad at the students.  (It's from November, just FYI). The NYPD determined that the threat wasn't credible, and wasn't a terrorist threat, though complaints at the school are ongoing, but the process takes something like three years to complete.  Maybe I should start a bloggers' union.  

What I find bizarre is that everyone is up in arms about his "blow up the school" tirade, which to any intelligent human is simply rhetoric (I mean, seriously, he's been around this long without blowing up a school yet?), while no one has filed a federal lawsuit for his violation of the laws requiring a separation of church and state.  The photos in the article make it pretty clear that his religious leanings have bled over into his public school work.  

I wonder what the NYPD would determine if they spent taxpayer money to investigate the torching of Barbie Ken dolls?  For all their craziness about the guy who put up the drone posters in NYC, they do seem a bit more rational than some other law enforcement agencies I can think of.  

Oh, the link:  Principal crazy as a loon, probably from reading too many bible parables

Monday, June 24, 2013

Well, That's a Surprise

B of A Employees Told to Lie

A little factoid for BofA brass:  Just because they are disgruntled former employees, that doesn't mean the allegations are false.  In fact, what axe do they really have to grind otherwise?

As someone slandered and libeled by a supposed "colleague" and repeat offender, those lies in turn believed by toothless, gutless "management," this totally makes sense to me.

Hopefully This Won't Have the Same Stupid Backlash as Blazing Saddles, but I Always Count on Intellectual Elitism for Its Own Share of Utter Stupidity

How to Make Money Selling Drugs

See this movie.  It opens Wednesday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One of the Most Under-Rated Songs of All Time...

For better or worse, this is actually my favorite Cheap Trick song, and one many people have never even heard...

And since you'll be forced to click to YouTube to actually view that one, here's a cover you can watch directly (it also includes hot chicks singing, albeit in still shots)....


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bang the Drums

I recently published my interview of Jean-Paul Gaster, the drummer for rock band Clutch (Jean-Paul Gaster InterviewClutch Live Review, Earth Rocker Tour).  While trying to maintain some semblance of objectivity, I failed to add two things to that interview, which I will try to rectify now.  First, just for the record, Jean-Paul Gaster happens to be one of the most kick-ass drummers in the world.  If you don't believe me, ask a friend who drums.  And B, I've included some video/songs from the new album that best epitomize Jean-Paul Gaster's work.  He can also be found on Five Horse Johnson's two most recent albums (The Taking of Black Heart, released earlier this year, also includes a track with guest vocals from Robin Zander of Cheap Trick.  I'm sure that tidbit has failed to register with nearly everyone, but one never knows for sure).

"The Wolfman Kindly Requests" (included as much for its funny video style as anything else):

as well as the studio version, simply because it's cleaner for hearing the offbeats and some of the brutal cymbal work going on in the background...

"Cyborg Bette:"

"D.C. Sound Attack!:"

Taking the Plunge

Man Jumps from Cruise Ship After His Girlfriend Takes Plunge

Hey, I'd take the time to consider the plight of these two, presumably dead now.  But I didn't know them, and besides, they were outside of my sphere of influence before, and most assuredly are now.  So instead I'd like to make the observation that the authorities have made a big leap of faith (pun intended) in assuming this guy jumped merely because his girlfriend did.  If I suddenly found myself trapped on a Carnival Cruise ship, with or without life partner, I'd jump, too.

Photo © Carnival Cruise Lines

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fuzzy Math

“Pension has been a drag for a decade.” 

Jeffrey R. Immelt

GE Chairman and CEO

Investor outlook meeting, December 14, 2011

Much like determining what the meaning of "is" is, apparently "decade" means "next year," or in this case, 2012, since that was the year GE made its first pension contribution in 24 years.  Perhaps he was referring to non-cash accounting items.  Sadly, those of us in the real world don't consider those to be actual expenses, since no actual "cash money," as we in the streets would say, has to be paid.  

Never count out the white knight, however; the federal government is always happy to help out giant mega-corporations, with a handout attached to a highway bill, no less, cutting the cost to the company by $2.5 billion.  And to think, Obama claims to be a democrat.  He's just a career politician like all the rest.  But please, call them muses, let's not get tawdry on my blog. 

Oh, and the coda?  The heat of having to pony up some funds for the first time since 1987 was just too much, so the company chose to shut down its defined-benefit pension plan to new employees at the end of 2010.  Ah, that explains the quote above.  It's not fuzzy math, just the inexorable, never ending, spin...

Based on original posting at:  GE's deep pension freeze | Pension Rights Center

Spin Doctors, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong"

Note:  Lead singer in video is not Jeff Immelt, nor is the girl, well, nor is anyone in the video.  Just want to avoid any confusion.  You might not have been confused, but my head spins like I'm in an Alice in Wonderland tableau when I read GE company quotes.

As an aside, the source posting (same as right before the video) makes a reference to Thomas Edison.  Not the nicest guy in the world.  Too bad this didn't actually happen:

Oh yeah, you can buy the stunning artwork above here.  And last but not least, the great debate about the genius scientist (ahem, that's Tesla, in case you were confused) and the hack who put a bounty on neighborhood pets and strays, then electrocuted them in public to show the danger of AC electricity (that's Edison, by the way), lives on:  Nikola Tesla > Thomas Edison.  Many apologists have come out since to defend Edison and his animal-killing ways (let's not forget that killing small animals is the first step on the slippery slope to serial killerism - maybe we need to delve a little deeper into Edison's past), but they've mostly relied on historical writings as their basis.  I'd have to say, having read a history book or two, that I have yet to read one (at least in the broader context of public education) that gives a true account of our country's treatment of its native citizens, Japanese internment camps, and dozens of other  atrocities committed in the name of keeping people safe, or more often, simply greed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Music Review of Clutch, House of Blues, Anaheim, CA, March 24, 2013

Sort of a combined live and album review (Earth Rocker, came out March 19).  I also interviewed their drummer, Jean-Paul Gaster, and that will be out shortly.  I had no idea that transcription was so incredibly slow and painful.

Clutch Live Review, HOB Anaheim, March 24, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Burnin' for You

At times, it makes me sad to think that the sourpuss Brits (you know, the ones our forefathers ran from because they lacked a sense of humor) have regained their sense of humor, while we've lost ours.

Effigy burning is protected as free speech by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. I know, right? I'm amazed. Actually, I'm not. It's sort of obvious in a country like ours, that protects freedom of speech more vigorously than perhaps any other, that our Supreme Court Justices make the effort to discern the difference between burning a giant (or miniaturized) cyclist in effigy, and actually setting that person on fire.

It's recently come to my attention, however, that some Americans, even those born here, are unaware of this. Which would mean they're either clueless, or living in a perpetual state of hubris, one in which laws can be applied or misapplied at their whim. Or they're faking it, which at least is better in one sense - the histrionics of the fakers are much more entertaining than those of the stupid and egotistical.

Sometimes, a rose is just a rose.

(Originally posted at Google+)

Another in the growing list of examples of human beings failing to (1) have a sense of humor; and (2) understand even the most pedantic of situations (i.e., that Armstrong fixed his races, and the Edenbridge organizers actually wanted to burn more than one effigy, but they were sensitive to the kids who might attend, so chose the feelings of children over those of the cheater in yellow or his fans. Well done, mates!).

After years of having to listen to Armstrong apologists with all their lame arguments for why he absolutely, positively couldn't be a cheater, it's hard for me to have any sympathy for their arguments now. That's like saying we should appreciate all he's done with his foundation, while let's say, hypothetically, we should ignore that he's a complete ass to people (oh wait, he is). Now, go back to your James Frey nonfiction, oops, I mean fiction.

Oh, and in case you wanted to see how it went down....

Not nearly as exciting as The Teds (RIP), but I don't think they had a staff writer for dialogue. It was 30 feet high, though.


* With apologies to Blue Öyster Cult...Burnin' for You



Somewhere, I have the entire series ("somewhere" loosely translating to "buried deep in the bowels of a 3TB encrypted HD without any logical file names").

There's some debate over how much might be simply fabricated, but I don't care.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Conspiracy Theories

There are some who believe in conspiracy theories, such idle ideas as the Plunge Protection Team and Zeitgeist.  Silly people.  I mean, other than the fact that the PPT exists, much of Zeitgeist has already occurred, and the DJIA has finished up on every Friday of 2013, i.e., 9 times in a row, there's really nothing to these silly ideas. 
Editorial Note: I added this additional information after the original post.... Perhaps you're saying to yourself, 9 Fridays in a row with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up on the day, is not really any big deal. It's merely coincidence. So let's look at this line of reasoning. First, the "gut check" approach. How often have you seen someone spin a single color (red or black) on a roulette wheel, 9 times in a row? It's entirely possible you have, but extremely unlikely unless you happen to work the roulette wheel at a casino, you're a degenerate gambler with a love for roulette, or perhaps a graduate student in mathematics. The actual likelihood of this occurring is the probability of a single occurrence, to tge power of the number of observations. So if the Dow is up half the time, down half the time, the probability is simply .5 for a single occurrence. With 9 Fridays thus far, the probability that the Dow would be up 9 consecutive Fridays is (.5)^9, which equals 0.001953125, which is simply 0.2%, which means that such an event randomly occurs, by chance, roughly 1 out of every 500 times (the actual number is 512, which is the solution of 2^9). To be more real world, one should account for the fact that over long periods, the stock market indices have a positive slope, which is to say, they tend to go up as a function of growth in the economy, population, and inflation, among other things. So, the probability of the market being up on a given day may be somewhat more than 50%. How much? Who knows? It's not critical for this example. I think a generous number to use is .60, while I think the right number is probably closer to .55. If one uses .60, the resulting probability is about 1%, five times larger but still not very likely to occur (i.e., it should occur one time out of 100 sets of 9 Fridays, all else being equal). You may want to note two footnotes to this footnote, fn^2 you could call them. One is that if you assume that up days have more magnitude than down days, then up days and down days could still be 50/50 and have a positive slope. Secondly, roulette is not a 50/50 proposition, since there are two green spots on the wheel, for 0 and 00. That's the casino's payout: 2/38 = 1/19 ~ 5% to the house, generally (also called the rake, or edge). Against a player betting a color, the casino's odds of winning are 20/38 ~ 53%.

Monday, February 25, 2013

What the NYPD Thinks of Free Speech

What do you get for putting up 100 posters in high-trafficked areas of New York City, that essentially say the NYPD uses drones to stop crime, in an obvious slam of the Obama administration's domestic drone program, as well as a criticism of the "1984" qualities that big cities, inexorably, keep sliding toward?

If your guess was not much, or even better, 56 felony counts of possession of a fraudulent instrument, then you win the pony.  Because it's not the crime that matters, it's who you piss off in the process, that matters.  Just another example of people with no sense of humor - and definitely, based on the charges, no sense of irony.  Frankly, considering the history of our country, this guy should get an award for cleverness, and perhaps a job with an ad agency.  If he infringed on someone else's ads, there may be a cost that should be paid to that party.  But the charges sound to me to be a bit...what's that word?  It rhymes with delicious, but it's almost like the opposite of delicious.  Oh well, it will come to me eventually.  Welcome to the free world, circa 2013, where free speech is tolerated only if approved by your government.  And I think we can rest comfortably, knowing that the Queen Mother and the Crown are looking after us all.

Oh, you wanted a picture of the poster?  Demanding little gutter snipes, aren't you?  Here you go:


Fighting the Good Fight

I generally restrict my posts to original content, but this was a little too good to pass up, so I'm linking it here.

Ever get one of those emails from a concerned reverend, high government official, embassy worker, etc., located in some third-world country, offering to send you USD50MILLION or something similar, if you can just send a few thousand dollars to pay for the legal work of getting that money out of the country and into your hot little hands?  Notwithstanding the fact that such emails, generally, test the bounds of human logic, there's a reason they proliferated, and still exist to this day - to some degree, they work.  They may work on only .001% of those to whom they are sent, but that's all it takes for it to be worth it, when it costs nothing to send an email.  Despite my belief that we humans already do way too much to thwart natural selection within our own species, it's inherently inhumane to feel no compassion for people who fall for such ploys, at the hands of criminal parasites.

One man and his friends (aka scambaiters) decided to fight back (screen shot):

In many cases, they've convinced the criminals on the other end to fly thousands of miles, in the belief that they will meet our crusaders in person to receive requested funds.  Much to their chagrin, it's all just a ploy.  Oddly, the criminal element, just like many people in general, seems to lack a well developed sense of humor - or irony.  

Regardless, you can check out each of their "projects" and trace the exchanges from start to finish.  They include maps, the entire email trail, and other notes.  



Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Papers, Please!" (Aaron Swartz, RIP)

For those concerned about Eastern European crime syndicates uploading info from their computers, or who've watched a meltdown caused by an e-mail attachment or clicking a bad link, take heart.  Your government doesn't care, and they won't do anything to help you, though they may be willing to sell you the information they have in their files from spying on you.  The problem isn't real criminals, as you might think, but "High-Tech Terrorists" like WikiLeaks, whose real crime is revealing things that the government doesn't want us to know.

In that spirit, we get this kind of mindless, handwringing rhetoric and misdirection, as CISPA winds its way through Congress, aiming to take away our civil liberties:

Do people really believe this drivel?  The lady doth protest too much, methinks.  It's a sad commentary, that politicians have managed to combine two words they most fear, yet know the least about.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Not-So-Hasty Retreat from the Subprime Meltdown

Finally, some dinner theatre around this place.  Master, servant, pimp, whore?  I'm not sure, but I do think it's funny when you are accused of being one of the foregoing, and your response is to issue a lengthy press release trying to absolve yourself on several theories, including these:  (1) Technically, legally, given the environment and the players, and our First Amendment rights, we really didn't do anything wrong (that's a paraphrase, but I'm pretty sure they didn't use the words ethically or morally); (2) Hey, other people did it, too, but you're only picking on us.

Uh, okay.  Let me help you, since you seem to be unclear on the concept:

"Hey, man, we might be bad, but look what we got paid.  It's not like we were working for Heidi Fleiss; at these rates we're just common streetwalkers!  Seriously, when these banks pay us for a rating, scratch that, pay us to independently review an issuance and give a completely impartial, non-biased third-party opinion from the best of the brightest minds from only Ivy League schools, we're getting paid for the equivalent of a hummer, while offering full service and party favors, which is simply unfair. You can hardly visit the Hamptons with that kind of pay, let alone buy a place."

See, that sort of appeals to the DOJ's sense of fair play, that the investment banks are more evil than you, since they were the ones buying the ratings, oops I mean paying for the independent reviews.

Not really, I'm just kidding.  You're screwed.  But, hey, I'm pretty sure the folks being referenced in #2 above are in the on-deck circle right now.

Editorial Note:  Yes, that's right, the rating agencies have asserted that their ratings are protected by the First Amendment, and in most cases the courts have agreed. What they fail to mention is that this is to protect them from being sued when they either say something bad about a company, or make an unintentional mistake. I'm pretty sure wholesale fraud and lying are frowned upon and not protected, just like they are for the rest of us chumps.

Here's the source article:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

A poem.

Don't ask; even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you.  Okay, fine - it's Valentine's Day (hence the red), that day everyone hates or loves with a passion, that binary decision largely a result of whether the person happens to be +1 or +0 at the time.  But that's just a theory.

Maybe I just want you to get caught up with my FB friends; I tortured them with this a few months ago.  Membership has its rewards, such as torturous prose.

At least it's relatively short, so the pain can't last that long.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rise of the Phoenix

The Phoenix arose from the burning embers of the funeral pyre, and fire came from its razor-sharp beak, along with a frightening sound.  The boy recognized that within the screech, there was language, and meaning, but he was too young, too afraid, too uninformed, to understand what it meant:

"Complacentiam mors est.  Noli timere, quia iam sunt in domo mea."

"But what can I do?  I am afraid, for the fire almost engulfed my village."

"Ah, puero vos sentio indefensos quia vos cognitione carent, et notitiis. Est ignis causatur quia vos non agnoscerent, in his autem, substituto fantasy pro re. Non tibi hostiam tibi causa doloris lacessierit."

"I'm sorry, I did not know!  My little village is so small, and I have never seen the world, nor can I imagine anything beyond my bedroom walls."  

"Video et te misereri. Nolite timere. Sis felix, quoniam tu instituis. Liberavit scientia, ut possit vim bonum quam malum. Hostia amet velit tincidunt sed oportet - quod tam facilis et perspicua."

"Yes, I see.  I feel as if the sun is rising for the first time in my life."

And the two began their journey in earnest...

Phoenix (Mythology)

A phoenix depicted in a book of mythological creatures by F.J. Bertuch (1747-1822)


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Battle of the Bands, Ginormous Egos Edition

I was driving a few days ago, and decided to listen to some KISS, and a funny thing happened.  I heard the song "Deuce," which until that point, I'm pretty sure I had heard a total of one time.  The opening riff started, and I had to rewind it, listened, rewound one more time.  Well, that was interesting.  Check out the opening riff of the song, and see if you recognize the initial guitar sequence:

The clip is from a 2010 concert in Europe, but the song itself is from KISS' eponymous debut album, in 1974.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Pass Your Emissions Test

As a public service, and because we now live in the age of misinformation, where it seems that more than half of what you hear, see or read is completely false, I will now share with you some tidbits about emissions.  For those who live in a state without emissions testing, whose car is super squeaky clean and doesn't have an issue with the "Check Engine" light, or simply don't care, feel free to move on (as if I could stop you anyway).  For the rest of you:

  • As of 2003, 33 states, plus the District of Columbia, required emissions testing.  I believe the number is more now, but the actual number is fairly irrelevant to this post, and I'm sure you know if you live in an emissions-testing state.  (State Emissions List)  And if you really, really aren't sure, check here...State by State Emissions Laws
  • In order to pass an emissions test, your car has to pass several tests for gas emissions of various types, under varying degrees of engine temperature and speed.  In addition, a vehicle must pass a fairly rudimentary safety inspection.  The one item that isn't rudimentary, however, is that your "check engine" light must be off.  If it is on, the vehicle fails automatically.  
  • You may be interested to know that California actually has its own, more stringent regulations those those of the EPA, managed by the California Air Resources Board.  Also, 16 states have adopted those more stringent regulations rather than following EPA standards (technically, if you follow CARB, you are already following EPA standards, as they are less strict).  Emission Standards
  • You've probably received advice like this in the past:  What Not to Do.  I encourage you to ignore it.  Also ignore the smogcheck facility guy who tells you to just "run it for 100, 200, 300 miles," or the mechanic who gives you similar worthless "advice."  None of these "fixes" will enable you to pass the emissions test, though there is a slight chance that such measures will turn off your check engine light.
  • For every car make (i.e., brand), there is a specific emissions sequence that you can follow to turn off your check engine light, and ensure that your car will pass emissions.  If you're interested in knowing more about it:  Emission Test Cycle.
  • The standards aren't going away, but rather they are tending toward worldwide standardization similar to CARB's standards (Emission Standards).
I'm focused specifically on the check engine light, so if you have a problem like your catalytic converter exploding, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Well, That's a Relief

Java and Flash - Tools of the Devil

The linked post is as follows (in case the link doesn't work, or FB doesn't like you):

Other than the fact that nearly all malware designed to infect Macs, is based on either Java or Flash, this is excellent news.

Toyota Carlsbad and the Continuing Spelling

Oddly enough, the following advertisement was changed the day after I shot this pic.  Then, this morning (a couple days later), I see that it's back.  Toyota Carlsbad, because I feel for you in this epidemic overtaking our nation, I will spellcheck your ads for free.  Though I may require you to fire your ad agency first, since the ad itself pretty much blew.  My opinion is free, too.  'Cuz I'm a giver.

The pic, in case the link doesn't work, or you're simply scared of The Facebook:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Advice on the Flu (Well, the Flu Shot Anyway)

Hey, do what you like, but I never get the flu shot.  And I never get the flu.  How odd is that?  Then again, I subscribe to the belief that the flu shot compromises one's immune system at exactly the worst possible time, and you just end up getting a different strain of it, due to your increased vulnerability.  But my 47 null data points could be wrong, while the media and public health officials could be right, since they've all diligently researched it, of course.  Even more interesting, if you ask your own doctor, you may be surprised by the response.

Cheers, and happy flu season.


Baffled by News Anchors' Lack of Speaking Prowess

Perhaps the public schools are letting us down.

Or maybe people just want to be cute.

I have no idea.

But how someone can be a nightly news anchor in an almost-first-tier news market, yet not know the correct pronunciation of the word 'zeta', is beyond me.  Especially when his name is Carlo.  I'm no linguist, but I'm pretty sure Carlo is of Latin derivation. As is, of course, Latin itself. And Greek. And Roman. And the last time I looked, Rome was in Italy. And Cecchetto, Carlo's last name, seems pretty Italian to me.

Then again, I'm no expert. You be the judge.

PS - Yes, I know he's from Omaha, don't ruin the story for everyone.  I'm from Iowa, and still, I somehow know how to pronounce zeta.  And just for the record, it's Los Zetas in this particular case.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

People Unclear on the Concept

I've always thought Oracle was tremendous at marketing its products, especially since they tend to suck so much.  In fact, they make a software (Java) so poorly designed and executed, yet so widespread, that it is single-handedly responsible for many of the most destructive internet security breaches of the 21st century.  Like any true marketing organization, a la P.T. Barnum, that doesn't stop Oracle from touting "security" and "stability" when marketing this plague.  And lest you think it's unfair to pick on a single product from Oracle, I'm not - this one just happens to be in the news right now.  They make plenty of other products that suck badly, though those ones tend not to open your internet portal to cyber-criminals by merely clicking on a web page.