Archive for May, 2006

carbon dioxide emissions, the keystone of life

May 18th, 2006


Hooray for front organizations! This propaganda is particularly rich — the only thing truly missing is a nebbishy-looking Ed Begley Jr. forcing you to drive an underpowered electric car.

“Competitive Enterprise Institute” = Exxon, by the way.


breve 2.4

May 18th, 2006

In accordance with’s strict self-promotion disclosure policy: this post is a piece of shameless self-promotion.

If you like robots, artificial intelligence, virtual worlds, or–I don’t know–just blinking lights, then you really truly should have a look at breve 2.4.

when dinner IS the movie (not intended as a book review)

May 18th, 2006

mcdonalds empire

Long before Morgan Spurlock gave us the film “Super Size Me“, an entertaining but often-times whiny, obnoxious and more than a little self-righteous look at the media-driven eating habits of Americans, author and investigative journalist, Eric Schlosser, released the non-fiction best seller, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. While Spurlock’s work is a relative Cliffs Note on the battle of the American People vs. Nutritional Common Sense and the Corporate influence to keep the fight unfair, Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation is an immaculately researched, fact-heavy juggernaut that throws enough punches to stun even the most jaded reader. However, it is tempered with such eloquence that it often reads with the ease of a Garrison Keillor-approved essay on the dusty, long and winding road through the history of all things Americana. It fascinates by offering a historical perspective on the growth of the fast food industry moving in lock-step with the emergence of new technologies and consequently the new habits of the industrialized American. It moves with melancholy tales of migrant workers pulling grueling shifts in the slaughterhouses and suffering dehumanizing injustices at the hands of their superiors with no hope for recourse and no legal ground on which to mount a defense. And it infuriates by revealing the industry’s perspective of the consumer– a rather accurate portrayal that we are naught but cattle whose every move can be predicted and affected thanks to number-crunching technology that is nothing short of military-grade, and trade publications that delve so deeply into the minutiae of the psychology behind our habits, as well as the habits of small children and infants, that they can only be described through Orwellian reference.You are correct if you’ve arrived at the idea that I am a big fan of this book. I am not a militant vegan or even a passive “make-up-my-own-rules” vegetarian (chicken and fish are meat, asshole). And though the occasion is rare, I do, in fact, treat myself to fast food from time to time, with none of the Evil Empire corporations exempt. However, for whatever reason*, I purchased this book shortly after its release in 2001-2002, and I cannot recall a time before or since that I so savagely devoured a work of non-fiction from cover to cover. It’s that good, and at the risk of punching myself in the face for saying it, I would even go so far as to call it a triumph…but…

Sadly, and with frigid irony, this book– championed many times over as a shining example of investigative journalism at its most deft– is getting the McTreatment as a feature length film to be released later this year. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What’s so bad about that? Nobody reads anymore and this will make it easier for message to get across,.. you know, like a Michael Moore joint”. I would agree were it a big screen interpretation of this fine work. However, rather than an interpretation, it is to be released as an adaptation. More specifically, a “fictionalized thriller”, written for the screen and directed by Richard Linklater, and featuring the likes of Ethan Hawke, Kris Kristofferson, Avril (fucking) Lavigne, Luis Guzman (you’d know him the minute you saw him) and Greg Kinnear.

Oh well. In any event, it looks to make the film adaptation of I, Robot look like nothing short of an artistic conquest.

Anyway, if you’re bored, check this link to what’s new regarding the ultra stoop-o-phonic, futuristic, George Jetson kind of number crunching sheeb these corporations are digging on these days.

*Perhaps it was my love for all things conspiracy theory (conspiracy fact for those of us in the know. ~wink~)

don’t even get me started*

May 17th, 2006

The rich get richer but the rest get poorer

I was going to comment on Jeff’s post below but I realized my comment was reaching an impolite length. The issue of economic injustice, which I watch getting worse and worse before my eyes and in my own pocket, is, well let’s just euphamistically call it a pet peeve.

The rich get richer and the middle and poor get poorer:

(“For low- and middle-wage workers, as well as those with a high school degree, real wages fell last year by 1%-2%. Those at the top of the wage scale experienced marginal gains, and real wages were essentially unchanged for college graduates…nominal wage growth slowed over the past few years ..Inflation was also a factor last year, as energy costs drove prices higher (on average for the year, inflation was up 2.7% in 2004 and 3.4% in 2005). Thus, nominal wages needed to grow that much faster to beat price growth.”)

And as we get poorer, many of us can’t afford health care, and jobs that used to offer it have decided they’d rather keep the money as profit:
(“…Corporate profits [are] unusually strong; compensation [is] unusually weak…While wages have stagnated or fallen behind inflation, corporate profits have remained strong…While compensation gains have slowed, profits have continued to grow strongly. In other words, the recent squeeze on wage growth appears to be coming much more from profits than from health care costs…Close to half of the workforce lack employer-provided health care, and those who have lost the most in real wages are the least likely to even have health coverage…strong productivity growth has done little to better the living standards of working families which has been a hallmark of the current economic expansion.”)

Meanwhile the President continues to tell us he is strengthening the economy and instead makes the tax cut policies to benefit the rich, and does nothing to help the rest of us
(here’s an exerpt of that State of the Union address on January 31, 2006, 9:12 P.M. EST: “….Tonight I will set out a better path: an agenda for a nation that competes with confidence; an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.”)

And on housing, one final thought: The inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage is 29 percent lower today than it was in 1979. Meanwhile, “…average U.S. home prices increased 12.50 percent from the first quarter of 2004 through the first quarter of 2005 …House prices rose 12.5 percent, while prices of other goods and services rose only 3.1 percent. …[This] represent[s] the largest four quarter increase since the third quarter of 2004, when appreciation surpassed any increase in over 25 years.”

…I didn’t even go into the skyrocketing costs of (even public) college education, the incredible ongoing, worsening economic apartheid here in America (yes, I mean race) wealth and survival in Developed vs. Developing countries, or one hundred other bajillion economic injustice things I try not to think about ALL THE TIME.


*You have gotten me started. This is a giant rant.

EDIT: I tried to make this a shorter rant, with little success.

greediest generation

May 16th, 2006

Living as I’m living now, scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, geographically surrounded by self-congratulatory baby boomers that seem to be doing just fine, thank you very much, well, let’s just say this essay sums it up quite nicely.


none more black

May 16th, 2006

  1. Apple expects their customers to pay $150 extra just for the privilege of having their new MacBook in matte black.
  2. Apple knows their customers very, very well.


free calls via skype

May 16th, 2006

Sure, I’m not the sharpest tool in the drawer — but I’m not dumb as paint either, and it still took me a couple tries to figure out how to make a regular “old-school” phone call via Skype. It works like this:

  1. Download Skype.
  2. Run through the setup wizard.
  3. Format your outgoing number like this: plus sign, 1, area code, then the phone number (dashes are optional), then hit “Call”:

…and prestoli, free phone call! I’m not entirely convinced Skype is the way to go (vs. other, more open SIP-based voice-over-IP providers) but they do currently have the slickest VoIP software implementation, and their latest announcement of free outgoing calls to the US* sure makes hardware like this outrageously expensive Netgear/Skype wifi phone more attractive.


* Here’s my theory why Skype is doing this: they have a non-standard voice-over-IP protocol, and they want enough of an installed use base up and running before other SIP software packages (I’m looking at you, Gizmo Project and Ekiga) get slicker and other SIP hardware options come to market. They want to be the AOL of the VoIP market.

May 14th, 2006

You know, it takes a lot to get me excited about blank CD-Rs, but these guys have got me excited about blank CD-Rs. Arty!


hope you like rain

May 12th, 2006



sometimes they forget to be subtle.

May 12th, 2006


Sometimes, the Right forgets to be subtle. They forget that Hispanics are a growing part of their constituency (and speaking of which, what kind of self-hate is that?). When that happens, they find themselves saying things like this: Whites have to have more babies in order to keep the Hispanics from becoming a politically powerful group.

Now, I realize that calling someone a Nazi is an Internet cliché, but this is so incredibly in line with Nazi eugenics (particularly when coupled with the “Minutemen” — which, as a Massachussetan, it really bothers me that they used that name) that the similarity has to be pointed out.

Come on, America. How could you have not seen this coming? I say “you” because this is the kind of shit I’ve been talking about for almost a decade now. So let me say this straight:

If the Religious Right continues its rise to power, they will kill you. They are murderous, greedy, lying, stealing tyrants. If you voted for Bush, it’s your fault. If you voted for a Republican for the House or Senate, it’s your fault.

But you’re a grownup living in a democracy. You can change that. You can look around at your fellow Americans and decide to fire the guy who’s making this happen, who abused your trust by promising “compassion”.

The Republicans may have, at some point, had a valid political point: a balanced budget, for instance, is a good idea, keeping us out of debt to those who don’t have our country’s best interests at heart. Self-reliance, that’s a good thing, right? But this thing, this machine that it’s become? It speaks only lies: it indebts you and your children to the house of Saud and it removes your civil rights, the very things you need to make decisions of conscience as an individual.

They want nothing less than world-dominating power. And, for some reason, Americans have been voting to give it to them.

miyamoto interview

May 11th, 2006

not pictured: dignity

There’s a great interview with Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto here where he answers the question on every gamer’s mind: do I have to jump around like a silly giraffe when I play a Nintendo Wii game?:

I think what’s really important is to think of how the player feels while they’re playing. For instance, with the Tennis games, you don’t necessarily have to do big swinging motions to play it, you can actually make just very simple motions; you could even just tap the controller back and forth on your hand and still execute the actions on the screen. But in fact for most players getting a good swing in and actually playing the game with those sweeping motions is a lot more fun. Simultaneously, something else that we’ve tried to think of is, as we’re creating the games is does the game look like it’s fun to play when you see someone else playing it? I think that’s very important, this idea of when other people are looking at the player are they being encouraged to actually try and play the game as well. And so really it’s a balance between these two, and I think that’s something we’ll be working on going forward.

UPDATE: Monkey Ball.


wii are psyched

May 10th, 2006

I’m astounded by Nintendo’s current agility; their new Wii console looks killer, the Wii’s incredibly innovative controller is getting rave reviews, and the Virtual Console “iTunes Music Store for Videogames” looks hot and is confirmed to allow downloads from indie developers. Even their elegantly redesigned DS Lite portable is getting an hypnotically awesome new Mario game and a killer web browser that takes full advantage of both the DS’s dual screens and lower touch screen.

It’s so gratifying seeing both the press and the gaming community reward true innovation; lord knows, not every gaming company is currently taking such risks.


ringtones for

May 9th, 2006

Robert over at has written a little script that allows you to use iTunes to generate custom ringtones for your incoming email. Ingenious. Evil and ingenious.

details on how to spend $600 on a freaking videogame machine

May 8th, 2006

Sony announced additional disappointing details about the upcoming Playstation 3 today:

  • It’s expensive, just like they hinted — $499 gets you the 20GB model, $599 gets you the 60GB model. That would be about right if this was 1993 and we were all still using SCSI hard drives. That’s a $100 premium for 40GB additional space? $100 should get you at least 250 GB of additional space.
  • It launches on November 17th in the US, just in time for Annual Gift Man.
  • The online service is a rip-off of Microsoft’s XBox live, and you can buy stuff using it, supposing you have any money left after Sony holds you upside down and shakes the money out of your pockets.
  • The controller is a rip-off of Nintendo’s Wii controller. It’s also dull as dry toast.
  • The PlayStation 3 font is still apparently the “Spider-Man” font. Does Sony not have any other fonts installed?
  • It hooks into the Sony PSP in some nebulous, ill-defined fashion. Something about downloading PlayStation 1 games to your PSP, which is great if you’ve been dying these past ten years for another round of Battle Arena Toshinden.


what’s it gonna be?

May 8th, 2006

what's it gonna be?

Hilarious video over on myspace. Not safe for work, unless you work in a pants plowing factory.