Monthly Archives: August 2011

I’ve got a number of friends on Facebook today who have jumped on the question of “why is [insert media outlet name here] ignoring Ron Paul in their Iowa Straw Poll coverage when he took second?” It seems that there are a number of people who, if not being Ron Paul supporters, are at least giving Ron Paul a look (and seeing the tone of his media coverage as something sinister) after his performance in the latest debate.

Looking at his positions over at On The Issues, there are some things I can appreciably get behind. Of course, there are also things that it’s hard to get behind as well, at least for a number of people. Still, I suspect that for a number of the positions he takes, Ron Paul at least carries the same positions as some of the other groups – Tea Partiers, Republicans, Democrats and his actual home party, Libertarians.

Why, then, would media outlets not want to bother covering him? Well, for one, a Straw Poll is completely nonscientific. It’s not a ballot-box primary. It’s not even a caucus. It’s a matter of figuring out how to bus your supporters in, drive them in, or convince them to show up and either pay their $30 ticket or convince them to pay for it themselves. According to the indicated figures, there were ~4000 people who took tickets provided by the Bachmann camp and voted for somebody else. I’m willing to bet a good number of them went over to the Ron Paul camp.

Second, Ron Paul’s supporters have a reputation for being a little… ahem… cuckoo. As in, they have a history of hijacking straw polls and unscientific, uncontrolled online polls and making a mockery of them, even using hijacked computers to spam online polls. In many ways, the Ron Paul supporters remind me of the Lyndon LaRouche supporters who used to pop up in various places on the SoTech campus trying to sell buttons, coffee mugs, reading material, and above all else, entry into the Cult of LaRouche. In 2004 and 2008, LaRouche supporters heckled the Democrat party debates before being escorted out of the auditorium; in the last debate, the Fox “chatroom” for the online stream was so spammed by Ron Paul supporters that no other discussion other than “why isn’t every question directed at Ron Paul” could be had.

The sum total of this is that I don’t really think the media are giving Ron Paul a disservice or failing in their duty by not giving him wall-to-wall coverage. Ron Paul’s been in the position of “winning straw polls, never gaining real traction” before. His supporters are highly motivated, more than enough to spam and tip straw polls and unscientific online polling. At the same time, they aren’t very numerous, and we eventually have to look at what they are selling – Ron Paul.

Here’s where it all falls apart. Ron Paul, while sincere, is sincere in the same manner that makes people look at the Lyndon LaRouche crowd, or the Al Sharpton crowd, or the Tea Party, or any other fringe movement and say “wow, there goes a nutcase.” He’s almost an octegenarian, but he can go into incredibly manic periods during interviews. He may make some good points, but he has a habit of making them in the worst possible way – that “blowback principle” audioclip, where his voice went squeaky/creepy, was on talk radio stations for months afterwards.

At the end of the day, they’re selling “Crazy Uncle Ron in the Tinfoil Hat.” And few people are buying, media coverage or not.

How ESPN may be complicating the SEC-A&M deal.

Many of you have already read this, but it’s worth catalogging anyway: Half Sigma on Tattoos and prole drift.

You have fewer opinions than you think. Fewer reliable memories, too.

California is declaring war on Single-Family homes. Michael Reynolds over at OTB likes to talk about how California is worth the 10% tax premium he pays to live there compared to a state without income tax. However, take a step back and you will notice that a lot of high-tax states are also more inclined to meddle in housing and the like, driving up the cost of living far more than 10%.

ED Kain’s piece on the London Riots and David Cameron’s “Big Society” is one of the best things he’s ever written, in my view.

Bank of America is demolishing houses to cut the glut of foreclosures. Does anyone rememberer the end of one of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series? They decide to use leaves as money, but determine that with leaves everywhere, inflation is rampant, so they burn down the forest.

If the Department of Education gets a swat team, why not the FDA? I remember reading about an actor who played a bit role in a play about a janitor. When asked about the play, he said that the play was about a janitor. I guess when you’re in charge of “safe” milk, making sure people don’t drink “unsafe” milk is really fishin’ important and worthy of the theatrics. Today, they drink raw milk. What tomorrow?

If Microsoft really wants to take on GMail, they’d be well-served by coming up with a superior product. For… professional reasons… I used Hotmail for a year solid. It just couldn’t compete.

I was married before I hit thirty, so I don’t know what dating in one’s thirties is like, but I doubt it would be like my twenties.

Category: Newsroom

Category: Theater

As many of you are aware, before it was released, someone got a hold of the iPhone 4 and sold it to Gizmodo. They are being charged with theft:

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s office has filed criminal charges against two men who obtained a prototype iPhone 4 last year and sold it to the gadget blog Gizmodo, CNET has learned.

Steve Wagstaffe, the district attorney, said in an interview today that his office has filed misdemeanor theft charges against Brian Hogan, the man who allegedly found the prototype in a bar after it was left there by an Apple engineer. An arraignment has been scheduled for August 25.

The second man charged is Sage Robert Wallower, who allegedly contacted technology sites last year while shopping around the iPhone 4 prototype. Wallower, a former Navy cryptologic technician who was scheduled to graduate from UC Berkeley in 2010, told CNET last year in an in-person interview at his home: “I didn’t see it or touch it in any manner. But I know who found it.”

My first instinct was that this doesn’t sit right with me under the concept of “Finders/Keepers.” On further reflection, though, there are definitely limits to the applicability of the rule. I can’t just take over a car that is left in a parking lot overnight, for instance. So at the very least, there would need to be some attempt to contact the owner. Except, that’s what these people did:

So you recognize this handset as an iPhone—it looks and works like an iPhone, and it’s even disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It’s not password protected (!), it’s running an OS that looks like the normal iPhone OS only a little different, and it has Facebook and other apps running. (Our source says he didn’t poke around too deeply.) Hours later—before the next morning, actually—it didn’t work.

The assumption is that it was wiped remotely as soon as either the engineer or Apple realized it was lost—probably later that night, not just to lock down the features of the new hardware, but to avoid spilling the beans on the new operating system. So, with a bricked phone in hand, an obvious course of action would be to call Apple. And as we reported before, that’s exactly what happened—our source started dialing Apple contact and support numbers. He was turned away, and given a support ticket number.

By bricking the phone, Apple protected their secrets. But it seems to me that morally, if not legally, by doing so they sacrificed any reasonable expectation of getting it back.

Back before I had a smartphone, I had a Pocket PC. They allow you to put a message up on start-up. Mine said that it was the property of Will Truman, here is the number he can be contacted at, and there will be a $x reward for its return (the number went down over time). I didn’t have that message on my smartphone, because I figured that if nothing else I could call it if it were lost (it was lost once, found on the floor of a movie theater and generously kept for me). Had Apple done this, they likely would have gotten their phone back. From the sound of it, they would have even without a reward.

But they chose to brick it.

Finders, keepers, in my view.

Category: Courthouse

The above picture is of Boston’s City Hall, which is apparently linked to “Brutalist” architecture. Am I the only one that thinks that it actually looks really, really cool? Apparently, I am.

Farhad Manjoo wrote about how Netflix is killing piracy. I think that there is some truth to this. I know that in the music world, it used to be that if you wanted to “try before you buy” you had to just download the song if you weren’t going to a record store, but Rhapsody completely obviated the need for it. Given how much space they take up, and really, given how much out there that there is to watch, downloading movies for many is as much a rental as anything. Netflix is just easier.

10 PC Myths from Movies and Television. The (instaneous) photo imaging blow-up bugs me, too. I think they’re a little off-base about Apple. I’m pretty sure Apple is paying for that. The PC makers typically do not, though sometimes you will see a generic one with a Windows logo, which I assume Microsoft is paying for. Every now and again I see them using a Thinkpad, but the logo is nowhere to be found.

Citing this map, someone tweeter that Mormons do not get headlice. I will point out that the only time in our marriage that either of us got headlice was in Deseret.

Cracked: 5 Pro-Marijuana Arguments That Aren’t Helping. The disingenuousness of the arguments put forth for this worthy cause can be very offputting.

More anti-cop fodder. Though cops always say that you can drive until you get to a well-lit place to pull over, they might punish you for doing so. In Missouri, a woman is ordered out of her car at gunpoint and handcuffed despite the car with the flashing lights being unmarked. The police car in Minnesota was at least marked, but after a very low-speed chase with a signalling minivan, the car was rammed twice as it was coming to a stop.

A look at the Army’s task of choosing a battle-ready cell phone. This is one contract I am not worried about Apple getting.

In defense of antidepressants.

In defense of prudes.

Category: Newsroom

When it comes to computer performance, as often as not it comes down to bottlenecks. The computer can only move as fast as its weakest point will allow it to.

For a lot of people, the bottleneck is RAM. Their computer is fast enough, but without the memory, it spends all of its time and energy moving data back and forth between the memory and the hard drive rather than using the energy to do the things that you bought the computer for.

I’ve found that most of the time, the bottleneck is RAM. I’ve found that you can breathe new life into computers that are 5, 6, 7, or 8 years old if you just put in enough RAM. Most computers can take 2GB, and most of the time that’s all you need.

That’s been changing lately, however. I’ve started to run into memory logjams even on machines with 2 or more GB of RAM. Even when running Windows XP (with Win7 it’s a bad idea to even try). And unfortunately, upgrading beyond 3GB of memory is hard to do with XP. So the bottleneck becomes the speed of the hard drive that it has to swap data with.

Enter the Solid-State Drive (SSD). The solid state drive is smaller than a regular hard drive, and a lot more expensive. But it’s also super-fast. So even if the computer does have to move data back and forth from the hard drive, it does so lickity-split.

I’d been wanting to try one for a while, but wasn’t sure about where to implement it. Then I realized that my ultra-mobile Thinkpad X60 laptop was starting to simply become unusable. I don’t know what it is about the X60 model in particular, but its performance has simply never lived up to its specs. Hit Coffee friend Holic has said the same about his (indeed, it was what convinced him to become an Applyte*).

Anyhow, I’d read that SSD HDs were good at breathing life into old machines. While this machine wasn’t old, it was mature for its age. So I went and bought one.

The results have been amazing.

I didn’t think I actually cared all that much about boot-up times, but with the SSD HD, a process that used to take 5 minutes now takes one. This is quite handy for an ultra-mobile machine, but it’s something that I could get used to for other computers.

It turns out that slow boot-up times were something I just got used to, but now I am sitting here thinking “You mean it doesn’t have to be that way?” In fact, knowing I can boot the PC up in under a minute would probably make me more likely to keep them off, saving energy.’This makes it good for battery life, too, as before I would often just leave the computer on and close to take it wherever I wanted to know. With this, I just turn it off.

It’s taken one of the least pleasant computers I have and has turned it into one of the most.

Beyond boot-up times, it allows me to open up as many tabs on Firefox as I want without fear of going into swap mode. It used to have to think about it just about every time I wanted to move between any open apps. Now, if it does, it does it so quickly that I don’t notice.

These may sound like small things, but outside of actual malfunction, it doesn’t get much more annoying than waiting through ten minutes of swapping just so that you can get to the point of closing applications in order to free up memory.

So now I am re-evaluating SSD hard drives for all of my computers. The really old ones can’t take them, unfortunately. The really new ones don’t need them. My work laptop (where I am seeking out a HD replacement) needs the space more than the speed. My newest personal laptop.

There is potential for my desktops, though. Especially since I know I shouldn’t be keeping them on as much as I do but want them accessible at any point. With fast boot-up I can keep them off the vast majority of the time because I’m not using them the vast majority of the time. I do keep my main desktop on. But even there it could be worthwhile because it’s a place where 2GB is starting to no longer cut it. I’ve been debating upgrading the RAM. Maybe I’ll upgrade to SSD instead.

Anyhow, if you have an old but not super-old computer that needs some new life smacked into it, I would recommend considering SSD drives. The same is true if you have a laptop that you take a lot of places.

* – It actually started when he was talking up macs about how PCs can just spend forever and ever swapping with the HD for every little thing you do and every time you want to switch apps. I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then, I got this model, which was the last he had used, and I understood what he was talking about.

Category: Server Room

A while back I linked to an article wherein Louisiana nearly decided to impound cars for littering charges. Louisiana decided better of it, but North Carolina went forward with a plan to seize vehicles that fail to pull over. Failing to pull over can mean anything from a 100-car high-speed chase to trying to find a bright place to pull over.

Speaking of North Carolina police, a rather disturbing tale of a cop hounding a citizen who had the audacity to pass a breathalizer. If there’s one thing cops should know, it’s not to mess with white, middle class lawyers.

We talk about traffic violations a lot on this site. How the deck is stacked, and so on. My friend Wes sent an interesting link on DWI law in Houston: Attorney Tyler Flood says he wins 80 percent of his clients’ DWI trials, even if they were 100 percent drunk as a skunk.

It’s the stuff of sitcoms, but it’s really true: people bond over a cigarette. The smoker’s dock is one of the only places where you have high management, suits, and dockworkers all hanging out at the same place and interacting with one another.

The state of Washington, which banned smoking in many public places, carved out an exception for cigar rooms. No cigarette rooms, of course. Cigarettes are for poor people. Cigars are classy.

Alex Massie writes in The Spectator about obesity and cigarettes. The long and short of it is that a new study suggests tobacco is conducive with being a healthy weight. Which is really quite remarkable, when you think about it, given how obesity and smoking tend to clump together in the lower classes. But a non-smoker from the upper classes is more likely to be overweight than a non-smoker in the lower ones. It makes me worry what’s going to happen when I finally give up the cigarettes.

Massie also has a piece on presidential pedigree, defending America’s fondness for politicians that come from humble backgrounds.

Bakadesuyo: Men are better at everything society values.

A cool video from BBC looking at the Greek monasteries. There was a poster of one of them in a Greek restaurant in Estacado. It really tickled the imagination just to look at it.

Update: I forgot to put in the link to North Carolina’s new law allowing departments to seize cars accused of failing to pull over. It’s been added. Unanimous vote. How depressing.

Category: Newsroom

Domino’s Pizza is bragging on their new website where you can track your pizza order. They also have a little feedback/comment section.

It seems like it’s popular among companies to ask for feedback. A lot of places will even offer a reward (or more common, a chance at a reward) for feedback.

I actually like Domino’s new method. Instead of ten questions that you don’t know how to answer because you don’t know how they will be received (some places will penalize for anything lower than a “perfect” score, so if you think you think you are doing them a favor by giving a 9/10, you are actually giving them a demerit. Anyhow, Domino’s appears to be a more informal process. Simply leave a note (“too much garlic”) and that’s that. The messages get posted, and pride does the rest.

I don’t expect that I will be ordering any pizza from Dominos in the near future, but I have to give them credit for the simplicity of the concept.

Category: Kitchen, Market

Sometimes, movies and TV shows create stand-ins for entities that they don’t want to put in the feature. Usually it’s for artistic license. So if you want Donald Trump, you introduce a brash and arrogant millionaire named Ronald Clamp.

I consider this to be a-ok. But it seems like whenever they do this, they mention the thing that they are trying to represent as co-existing. So an episode of The Good Wife, which is quite clearly based on the movie The Social Network, goes out of its way to mention The Social Network. Thus stating that there were two movies that came out roughly at the same time that both featured internet moguls that were unfairly depicted by writers taking excessive artistic liberties while making a broader point about the effect the internet has had on interpersonal behavior.

There are times when the hat-tip is entirely appropriate. When the movie Office Space ripped off their criminal scheme from Superman III, they said “Yeah, it’s what the guy in Superman III did. And the movie went on because that wasn’t the point of the movie.

But beyond that, if we’re going to have a movie features a software company leader whose software company writes an OS that becomes omnipresent… this guy probably exists in lieu of Bill Gates, not along with him.

A part of me wonders if this isn’t legall arse-covering. As long as you mention Bill Gates, then the character you hired Tim Robbins to play can’t expressly be Bill Gates. Therefore Bill Gates can’t sue.

Another part of me wonders if this is an attempt to say “Yeah, we know the real counterpart to all of this exists. We’re not sweating it, so neither should you.” Or alternately, “in case you missed it, this guy is a lot like Bill Gates but tech-savvier!”

Whatever the case, it’s annoying.

Category: Theater

A look at whether women’s attraction to the city is based on finding a high-status mate. That may be part of it, though really most of their career options are urban (or, more precisely, few of them are rural) and I would think that factors in as well.

Along those lines, The Atlantic reports that No One Can Explain the Economic Recovery’s Gender Gap. It’s not a mancession anymore. The article overlooks the most obvious answer: At the beginning, it was male-type jobs that were getting nailed. As those that come back, government jobs are being cut. Government jobs are disproportionately female.

Houses are a place to live. Not a particularly good investment. Even leaving aside the bubble and the havoc it reached, I am really beginning to wonder the degree to which home ownership is a social good. Even for middle class people.

From the Department of Regulation: Texas will allow you to sell stuff you bake from your home. Extended hours working at a home desk job may lead to obesity, which can mean workers’ comp. Nashville, however, won’t let you meet clients there. Why? Fear of the ethereal sex offender.

Speaking of which, a while back I linked to (and applauded) Michigan’s decision to revise the sex offender registry. Here’s a follow-up on the red tape some are running up against when attempting to get off. More on the subject.

Law enforcement issues become a lot more complicated when it comes to crimes that almost inherently happen in private. It’s true of rape, molestation, and infant death.

An interesting look at a “hippie haven” in Denmark and its collapse.

If you’re on probation, be careful what you say on Facebook.

Cracked: 5 Famous Ad Campaigns That Actually Hurt Sales. The story behind the Dove one was interesting. I was also completely unfamiliar with the Duracel bunny.

Category: Newsroom